Acceptable text/web entry instant win promotions
It is always important that it is clear whether all prizes will be won or whether they may be won, and it must be particularly clear if it is unlikely that a prize will be won.
Acceptable promotions typically involve special packaging or inserts that feature Unique Reference Numbers (URNs) of some nature, and these will have been randomly "seeded" under independent supervision.
Entry of a URN that has previously been designated as a winning number will immediately generate notification to the entrant that he/she is a winner and what has been won.
The clear position is that all promised prizes will be awarded, if the previously selected URN's are entered. If prizes are not awarded, it will only be because the prize-winning URNs have not been entered, and this is entirely understandable to the public and the industry.
"No Purchase" entries are usually handled using a computerised random allocation that gives such entries the same chance of being winners as entries made by product purchase.
Problem test/web entry instant win promotions
These are promotions that purport to offer the same entry mechanic but where URNs are not involved. It is often the case that all prizes are unlikely to be won and the basis of the award of prizes is not made clear.
There is a temptation for promoters to base the award of the prizes on some relationship with the number of packs featuring the promotion, when they know full well that the number of entries will not be anything like this number.
The public is thus completely misled regarding the chances of the claimed prize fund being won.
In some cases, promoters genuinely attempt to predict the number of entries likely to be received and use this as a basis for randomly allocating the prizes, adjusting the "odds" as the promotion develops.
However, such "juggling" means that all entrants do not have the same random chance of winning, and the approach is difficult to defend.
Where it is intended to run an Instant Win promotion of this nature but URNs are not feasible, and the basis for the award of prizes is not clearly specified, the only justifiable approach is to use the time universe over which the promotion will run.
Unless otherwise made clear, all prizes should be awarded on the basis of an independently verified random allocation of prizes across the whole period for which the promotion will be live.
The entry times that have been randomly designated as winning times should be included in the selection program and the entries received immediately following those times should receive instant notification of what they have won.
"No Purchase" entries can be included either by asking entrants to specify the entry time that they wish to nominate, or more simply by randomly generating "dummy" entry times that can be entered into the selection program, thus ensuring that they have the same chances of winning as entries made via a purchase route.
The ISP appreciates that individual activities can take many forms, so if you have any queries regarding these Guidelines, the ISP Legal Advisory Service will be happy to provide specific advice.
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