HomeInsightsPrize promotions: ASA upholds complaints that a Walkers crisps ad for a competition offering holidays as prizes was not conducted fairly.

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The Walkers “Spell and Go” promotion, run on various media including Facebook and Twitter, had participants taking codes printed on promotional packets of crisps and entering them on a website to gain letters that would help them spell out holiday destinations. A completed name of a destination would result in a holiday.  More than 100 people complained that the competition withheld certain letters.

Walkers said all 26 destinations included at least one of the letters C, D or K – known as type one letters – and the company had ensured enough of these were in circulation to allow for 20,000 holidays to be won. The company said 796 families had won four-star, seven-night holidays worth more than £1.35m.

The ASA said it was satisfied a small proportion of the total number of letters in circulation were type one letters. However, it was not satisfied with another part of the competition, the “random swap” function, which allowed participants to swap letters within a “pool” on the competition’s website, which stated “all letters are treated equally”.  The ASA discovered that C, D or K could not be won in the pool.

Although the ASA considered it unlikely that the existence of the random swaps mechanism would in itself influence a consumer’s initial decision to participate in the promotion, it considered it likely that it would influence their decision to continue to purchase promotional packs of crisps, based on their understanding that when swapping a type 2 letter it was possible to receive a type 1 letter.

The ASA acknowledged Walkers had amended the random swaps function to include type 1 letters before the promotion ended. However, it considered the original limitation to only type 2 letters was a significant condition likely to influence a consumer’s decision and understanding about the promotion, and that the omission of that significant condition from the references to the random swap mechanism in the ad was misleading and likely to cause unnecessary disappointment to consumers.  As such, the ad breached CAP Code rules 8.2, 8.17, 8.17.1 and 8.24.  To read the ASA Ruling on Walkers Snacks Ltd (17 August 2016), click here.