Last week, ASDA launched an online ‘spin the wheel’ instant win prize promotion campaign. The copy stated, ‘If the text “£100 win” appears at the top of the wheel, with the arrow pointing to that segment it means it is a winning spin with a £100 value e-giftcard prize.’ The spin the wheel mechanic whirled away, landing repeatedly on £100, although only five such prizes were available to be won.
I can’t say for certain how many times the arrow hit £100, but judging by the outcry on social media, it was not an insignificant number. The campaign was abruptly halted and then terminated ahead of its scheduled 6 October 2020 closing date.
Prize draw scam allegations
Twitter was wild with calls for CAP, the ASA, even Ofcom (I know, really) to get involved and resolve this terrible injustice. I saw comments such as ‘Must be a scam’ and ‘Massive con’. Given that consumers neither paid to enter, nor suffered any financial loss when they didn’t win, these are grossly disproportionate allegations.
No matter what consumers think, it is never a brand’s intention to dupe consumers or to run a promotion that goes wrong. Brands do not set out with malicious intent. No brand purposely plans to damage its own reputation, or incite consumer distrust. No wants to deal with hundreds of irked customers or, for that matter, the ASA.
Instant win campaigns take time and require complex coding. Behind this instant win calamity are humans. People with real lives. Probably a third-party agency and not ASDA employees. People who, no doubt, didn’t sleep for a few nights and who may now be worrying about their future. Are the consumer accusations and vitriol truly merited?
The essence of the CAP code is that promoters must avoid consumer disappointment, but how do you – or in this case, more specifically, the ASA – measure disappointment? Is this as disappointing as not getting the A levels you worked so hard to achieve, not being offered the job you put a lot of energy into applying for or even losing your job?
A bit of perspective, compassion and understanding goes a long way. Now more than ever.
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist.