ASA ruling: Inside Lifestyle
Inside Lifestyle is a ‘bespoke travel experience company’ offering holidays in Ibiza and Dubai. In July last year it ran a prize promotion with celebrity influencer Jack Fincham, famous for coupling up with Dani Dyer to win the 2018 edition of Love Island (and no doubt lots of other noteworthy activities since). Announced with posts on both Inside Lifestyle’s and Jack’s Instagram accounts, the prize was a luxury holiday in Dubai apparently worth £15,000 and to enter all you had to do was follow Inside Lifestyle and like the post.
Both posts stated that the winner would be announced on 30 September 2019, but the promotion prompted a complaint to the ASA on the grounds that neither included a closing date, no terms and conditions were available and that no winner was announced. In short, the complainant challenged whether the promotion had been administered fairly.
In its response to the ASA, Inside Lifestyle said that the prize draw terms and conditions were available in full on its website and it had flown a celebrity (it’s not clear from the ruling whether that was Jack or not) to Dubai to announce the winner live on social media. It added that the winner had subsequently been contacted and had booked a date to take the holiday.
Missing terms and conditions
The ASA accepted that a winner had been chosen and the prize awarded, but it pointed out that according to the CAP Code all significant terms and conditions must be included in the original promotion. Although details of the prize and entry instructions were present, there was no mention of the closing date, how the winner would be selected or any restrictions related to the prize.
Black-out dates or a date by which the holiday must be taken are not unusual with holiday prizes and I wonder whether this would have been a suitable prize for unaccompanied under 18s. In fact, there was no mention of where to find the full terms and conditions or indeed that full terms and conditions even existed.
Closing date confusion
Now, just going back to the lack of a closing date, yes, there were dates in both Instagram posts, but they were the date when the winner was due to be announced. Sure, Inside Lifestyle was keen to create a social media event on a particular day, but that’s not the same as a closing date. It can be, but promoters sometimes leave a gap between the closing date and announcing a winner so that they can carry out due diligence checks and ensure that the winner selection process is fair.
In its ruling, the ASA observed that although the post didn’t explicitly state that the closing date was 30 September, entrants would have understood that the closing date would not be after 30 September, and of course I’d go along with that because it’s the only logical conclusion you can make unless you’re living in some sort of time warp.
However, it turned out that Inside Lifestyle actually was operating in another time dimension altogether, because it didn’t announce the winner or conclude the competition on 30 September as advertised, it changed the closing date and kept it open for another month.
Success is no excuse
Defending this, Inside Lifestyle told the ASA that it had extended the prize draw due to the large number of entries – over 30,000 – it had received. The issue is more often a lack of entries and it’s great that the promotion was successful, but you simply cannot change a closing date.
The CAP Code states that the only reason for changing a closing date is ‘unavoidable circumstances’ beyond the control of the promoter, but the bar is set high and unexpected success definitely doesn’t count as ‘unavoidable’, particularly when it was a high-value prize and the promotion was obviously going to get good exposure. Inside Lifestyle has over 200K followers on Instagram and Jack has over 2M, which might have had something to do with why Inside Lifestyle partnered with him in the first place.
The reason closing dates cannot be changed is because it’s unfair. In this case, people who entered before the original closing date were disadvantaged by the extension, because enabling additional entries reduced their chances of winning.
Finally, one other point on this ruling: both Inside Lifestyle and Jack Fincham were reprimanded by the ASA, in line with other cases where the brand and the influencer were held equally responsible. This can appear unjust to one party or the other. Maybe in this instance Jack did no more than lend his name and Instagram account to the promotion (and his might find it helpful to look at the ASA’s new edition of its influencer guidance), but it’s firmly in line with the ASA’s approach to protecting consumers by enforcing adherence to the CAP Code and encouraging compliance in the social media space.
If you’d like to read what the ASA said in full you can do that here, and if you’re interested in running any type of prize promotion do get in touch, although, just to be clear, Prizeology would have to insist on proper terms and conditions and a closing date that doesn’t change…
Sophie Robertson is Prizeology’s Senior Project manager.