Don't leave it to chance: A lesson in advertising consumer competitions

Competitions are a great way to build your brand and expand your customer base, but if you mislead consumers about their chances of winning – all that goodwill could be lost.

Our latest Industry Jury case explores what happens when an advertiser’s promotional material is found to mislead consumers.

The fine print

The Ad Standards Industry Jury has upheld a competitor complaint against a company advertising a chance to win a $1 million prize.

In its submission to Ad Standards, the complainant alleged that the representation “Buy BabyLove for your chance to Win $1 Million*” which appeared on promotional material was misleading, as it gave the impression that all you had to do to be in with a chance to win was register and provide proof of purchase.

Only by accessing the full terms and conditions were consumers informed that submitting an entry into the competition only provided a chance to win a further chance to win the $1 million prize.

A winner would first be drawn from the competition entries, and then that winner had to select one envelope from a pool of one hundred envelopes of which only one would contain the $1 million prize – and the other ninety-nine envelopes would contain a $10,000 prize. The contents of the envelope picked by the winner determined the prize won by the winner. The Industry Jury Panel found that while the promotional material made it clear that there was an element of chance involved in winning the $1 million prize, it was not made sufficiently clear to consumers that the reality was that there was a 99% chance that no one would win the $1 million prize.

In response to the Industry Jury’s decision, the advertiser agreed to follow the guidance provided in the determination when organising future promotions.

The full case report provides further detail about the case, and provides helpful guidance to advertisers about how to make chance-to-win competition terms clearer to consumers

The outcome highlights the advertisers’ responsibilities under the AANA Code of Ethics, and how important it is to be clear about the terms and conditions attached to competitions and promotional material.

A quick reminder on how the Industry Jury works

The Industry Jury is a competitor complaint resolution service. Any Australian business can make a complaint against a competitor under Section 1 of the AANA’s Code of Ethics. The Industry Jury is made up of a panel of three lawyers who specialise in advertising law and/or competition and consumer law.

The Ad Standards Industry Jury service is available to all Australian businesses on a fee for service basis, and provides a mechanism to resolve complaints between competitors about the truth, accuracy and legality of their advertisements.

One of the greatest benefits of using the Industry Jury service is the ability to have a case assessed and resolved in a fraction of the time and cost required for litigation.

For further information about making a complaint about a competitor’s claims which may be considered by our Industry Jury panel see Industry Jury.

If you are unsure whether your advertisement may breach one of our codes, you can request guidance through our Copy Advice Service.

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