Both Highland Spring and McCain have had their wrists slapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for running on-pack competitions that were misleading about the likelihood of a win.
An on-pack prize draw run by Highland Spring early this year offered entrants the opportunity of an ‘instant win’. The ‘H2Oomph’ promotion promised 10,000 prizes, with shoppers invited to go online to ‘enter details, bottle batch code and time stamp’.
A complainant challenged whether the promotion was misleading, given winning details had to be submitted during a second-long period selected at random by an independently verifiable process.
Highland Spring responded by saying short terms and conditions were provided on the pack, while full T&Cs were on the promotional website alongside frequently asked questions. Also, the back of pack stated that prizes were available to be won but not guaranteed.
However, the ASA ruled “it was not sufficient for significant conditions to appear only in the terms and conditions”. Highland Spring’s promotional bottles label “did not make clear how prizes were allocated, or otherwise manage prospective participants’ expectations of the likelihood of winning”.
The ads watchdog this week ruled that the competition was “misleading” and had “caused unnecessary disappointment for participants”. It must not appear again in its original form.
Highland Spring said it had worked closely with its promotions agency and the Institute of Promotional Marketing to create and execute the H2Oomph push.
A spokeswoman for the brand added: “Working with the IPM underlies our desire to ensure that the promotion complied with all relevant regulations. While we are therefore disappointed with the ASA’s decision, we will abide by the ruling.”
McCain ‘Great Village Raffle’
Early last year, McCain kicked off its ‘Great Village Raffle’ drive across its frozen portfolio. Front of pack included an image of a Mini Cooper and raffle tickets graphics with text that stated ‘Win Instantly Online: £3 Million of Prizes Available’.
In late 2017, the complainant challenged whether the prize draw had been conducted fairly, claiming there had been 28,515 prizes available but only 159 prizes won.
McCain responded by saying the promotion had been developed with input from accredited agency Blue Chip Marketing, while T&Cs were approved by the IPM.
Unique, random, alphanumeric codes were printed on 53,317,540 packs. The total prize fund available to be won was valued at £3m, which equated to 28,515 prizes. A total of 342,713 codes were entered by shoppers, resulting in 159 winners picked via an algorithm that had previously been verified by an independent third party, according to McCain.
The brand said it was clearly stated both on packs and in the terms and conditions that prizes were available to be won, but there was no guarantee that all would be won.
Nevertheless, the ASA this week insisted both the packaging and the online terms did not give any indication of the likelihood of consumers winning a prize.
“Because the ads for the instant win promotion significantly exaggerated the likelihood of consumers’ chances of winning prizes, we considered that the promotion was likely to cause unnecessary disappointment and concluded that it had not been conducted fairly,” ruled the ads regulator.
McCain must ensure future competitions are “conducted fairly and did not cause unnecessary disappointment”.
A spokeswoman for the frozen specialist said: “As a responsible food brand with a proven track record in delivering consumer promotions, we believe that we followed an approved industry standard approach in the case of the Great Village Raffle in 2017.”
However, the push had fallen short of McCain’s “usual standards”, and the brand “had committed not to use this type of promotion in the future” she added.