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T&C competition clarity is a must!

16 September 2015

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has issued an adjudication confirming that competition terms and conditions must be tailored to a specific competition, particularly if general competition terms and conditions have also been incorporated.

The ASA’s adjudication concerned a competition that was run online by Harrods in conjunction with Vogue magazine, which encouraged the public to submit photos posted on Instagram of a paper figure of the Harrods "Green Man" character in different settings around the world.

The relevant Harrods’ page with the competition terms and conditions contained a section headed "General Competition Terms and Conditions", which were indicated to apply to all competitions and prize draws unless otherwise stated, and expressly said that there should be "only one entry per person" for each competition.

There were also terms and conditions specific to the "Green Man" competition, but no mention in the "Green Man T&Cs" about numbers of entries per entrant, therefore it could be implied that only one entry per person was allowed.

Three people complained to the ASA as they believed the initial winning entries did not comply with the competition T&Cs as the winners had submitted more than one entry.

Harrods then investigated internally and concluded that the T&Cs for the competition could be confusing as the "Green Man" T&Cs did not refer to multiple entries and therefore the General T&Cs limitation should apply, even though they had not intended to limit multiple entries.

The ASA agreed with Harrods and concluded that the "Green Man" competition T&Cs were unclear as they omitted some significant information, therefore the promotion had not been administered fairly and was in breach of rules 8.1 and 8.2 (with regards to sales promotions) of the CAP Code (which is the rule book for non-broadcast advertisements, sales promotions and direct marketing communications in the UK).

The ASA made it clear that all future promotions needed to be administered fairly but recognised that Harrods had acted quickly in response to the complaints, investigated and then announced a new selection of winners based on criteria disallowing multiple entries.

The ASA also concluded that there was a lack of clarity from the information provided to the public as to whether entries could feature the "Green Man" against a non-locational background or using digital manipulation as clarity over what constituted a "setting".

Following this example it is therefore very important to make sure that terms and conditions for participants in promotions or competitions are very clear, with different rules expressly carved out if they are to apply to a specific competition’s T&Cs as different from any generally applicable competition T&Cs.

For more information please contact Mark Howard on +44 (0)20 7203 8902 or mark.howard@crsblaw.com