The UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) states that advertisements should be legal, decent, honest, and truthful. They should be prepared with a sense of responsibility towards consumers and society. They should adhere to the principles of fair competition.
Section 8 of the CAP Code defines a sales promotion as something that provides ‘an incentive for the consumer to buy by using a range of added direct or indirect benefits, usually on a temporary basis, to make the product more attractive’. This includes two for the price of one, money-off offers, text to win and, instant wins.
Section 8 also states the information that must be communicated before purchase or by the time of entry if no purchase is required. These are:
- The information on how to participate in the promotion. Any costs the consumer would need to incur. Any factor that is reasonably likely to influence the consumers decision on purchasing/participating in the promotion.
- If there is a free entry route offered, then the information on participating via this route must be prominently and clearly displayed.
- Any proof of purchase requirements.
- The full name and correspondence address of the promotor.
- Start date of the promotion, if applicable.
- Closing date of the promotion unless the offer is stated to be ‘subject to availability’, the offer is open ended. It is and is stated to be limited by the availability of promotional packs and it is stated that the deadline for responding to undated promotional material will be calculated from the date the material was received by the consumer.
A closing date must not be changed unless there are unavoidable circumstances beyond the promoters’ control which make in necessary and not changing the date would be unfair to those who sought to participate within the original terms, or those participants will not be disadvantaged by the change.
If there is a significant time or space limitation, marketing communication must include as much information about these conditions as practicable. Consumers should be clearly directed to an easily accessible source where all the significant conditions are clearly stated. Participants should be able to retain or access the conditions throughout the promotion.
If a promotion is targeted at children:
- It must be made clear that adult consent is required if the prize/incentive could cause conflict between a child’s desire and the parent/guardian.
- Must have a clear closing date if applicable.
- Must not exaggerate the chances of winning or the value of the prize.
If a promotion requires a purchase to participate and a direct appeal to make a purchase, then it must not be targeted/addressed at children.
You should be aware that the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media. It will investigate and adjudicate on any potential advertising code breaches. This includes the CAP Code. If a breach is found the ASA can take several actions. Most of which will reflect negatively on your business’s reputation.
There is more to consider than the CAP Code when offering promotions on your website to entice customers. At Lawdit our Stay Legal service can ensure that your website is complying with the law.