Influencer Held in Breach of ASA Code in £8,000 Prize Giveaway
Molly-Mae Hague, 21-year old reality TV star from Love Island show, has been found in serious breach of CAP Code with an £8,000 giveaway, which the regulator ruled was not administered fairly.
In our previous blog, we discussed the ruling of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in relation to influencers and the use of social media filters. This recent ASA ruling yet again brings the role of influencers on social media under scrutiny, this time with a focus on the rules around prize draws, which are subject to the ASA rules and advice on competitions and advertising more generally.
Complaint to ASA
An influencer, Molly-Mae Hague, gave her followers the chance to win a basket of luxury goods worth £8,000 (around US$11,000), if they liked her social media post, subscribed and tagged a friend. The caption of the post stated that the winner would be drawn at random. Over a million people ‘liked’ the post and almost three million entry comments were left on the post. Although computer software was available which could have made a random selection from the respondents to the post, a group of 100 participants were chosen at random, then a winner was chosen from a smaller shortlisted group of 25 participants.
Twelve complaints were made to ASA on the basis that that not all entrants were included the final draw and so did not have an equal chance of winning. The complainants argued that the prize was not awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and that the promotion was not administered fairly.
The ASA’s Assessment
The ASA stated that they had not seen any evidence to show that the shortlisted group of participants were chosen at random or that the prize was awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and under the supervision of an independent person (as is required by the CAP Code). The ASA therefore concluded that the prize draw was not administered fairly.
The Regulator adjudicated that Ms Hague was in breach of no less than five provisions of the CAP Code Rules.
As highlighted in our previous blog post, recent decisions of the ASA reinforce the fact that influencers are being closely watched by the regulator. Influencers must comply with the same rules that are applicable to any major brand. The ASA continues its focus on enforcing rules around the use of social media. To date, the gaze has been on disclosure requirements: ensuring that influencers make clear when their online content is sponsored or an ad. This decision is a reminder that influencers, like any brand, must comply with all ASA rules when operating online, including when running prize draws or competitions.
Failure to administer promotions fairly, including guaranteeing that prizes are awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance, can ultimately lead to criminal prosecution for failure to comply with consumer protection and advertising laws.