Coronation prize promotions
Bring out the sandwich platters, bowls of crisps and bunting – it’s all happening on Saturday 6 May. Yes, I’m talking about the coronation of King Charles III and his wife, Camilla, Queen Consort, which will take place in Westminster Abbey in a ceremony conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
According to a statement from Buckingham Palace, ‘The coronation will reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future, while being rooted in longstanding traditions and pageantry.’ That sounds like a rather careful balance between ancient and modern, but nonetheless it’s a cause for national celebration, not least because the following Monday is now an extra bank holiday – and if that isn’t an excuse for a party and a prize promotion I don’t know what is!
His Majesty King Charles is known to favour a ‘slimmed down’ monarchy and his forthcoming coronation is likely to reflect that approach. Whereas when his mother, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, was crowned in 1953, 8000 people were invited to the ceremony, which went on for three hours, the 2023 version will apparently clock in at just over an hour and will be performed in front of an in-person crowd of only 2000, although of course it will beamed across the globe via the miracle of television.
Right royal viewing figures
In fact, as you probably know, the 1953 coronation was the first to be televised – families famously purchased their first TV sets just so that they could gather round and watch the big event – and the UK television audience was 27 million, with millions more watching around the world.
I can’t find an estimate of how many people will watch this time, but last summer Elizabeth II’s funeral service was watched by 29.2 million people on TV in the UK. To be honest, that isn’t a massive increase given that in 2022 the UK population was 67.5 million, whereas in 1953 it was 50.7 million, but it’s still a very high level of engagement with a public event.
It’s not the highest TV audience of recent times, though, because in July 2021 more – 31 million – watched Gareth Southgate’s England footballers lose to Italy in the final of Euro 2020 (in case you’re wondering, a ‘mere’ 17.2 million watched the Lionesses lift the World Cup…).
Anyway, enough history. Given that a coronation is the perfect occasion for a prize promotion, but we haven’t had one for 70 years, then it’s probably worth running through the rules – and there are a few rules, because the CAP Code is very strict about how you can use the royals or royal occasions in your promotions.
The five golden rules
Don’t use his name. Without prior permission – and I’m sure I don’t need to spell out how unlikely you are to receive that – you can’t make a direct connection between your campaign and King Charles or the coronation. However, to comply with this rule you just need to be clever and give your promotion a slightly more generic theme, such as kings and queens, crowns or celebrations in general.
Don’t use his picture. Again, because you can’t make a direct connection between the coronation and your promotion, you can’t use the monarch’s image either. However, if you use regal or patriotic iconography – red, white and blue colour coding is the obvious way to go – you can circumvent this one without too much trouble.
Don’t use his coat of arms. This is the familiar badge with the lion and the unicorn either side of the shield, and it’s tempting to use it, because of course it would make your promotion look nice and official. However, that’s the point – you can’t imply an endorsement by the king and because his arms or emblems represent him, using them would do exactly that.
Don’t use his royal warrant. A company can promote its royal warrant on all its communications, including its packaging, meaning it can advertise the fact that it is ‘by royal appointment’, because it supplies a particular product or service to the royal family. For the same reasons as above – that it implies an endorsement – you mustn’t use a royal warrant if you’re not entitled to.
Don’t imply your prizes are officially endorsed. Even if you decide to offer a specially designed souvenir – a coronation mug, for instance – as a prize, you can’t imply that prize is official memorabilia, because, as I’ve already explained, you can’t suggest King Charles’ personal endorsement.
Celebrate good times
So, if you stick with those rules you should not incur the royal wrath. And finally, for the sake of completism and just to deliver on my role as royal correspondent, on the day of the coronation, after the service there will be a fancy procession as the King and Queen Consort plus other royals return to Buck House. This will be followed by some balcony-waving, although it hasn’t yet been confirmed who will be making an appearance and, in particular, whether Harry and Meg will be there.
But that’s not all, folks. On Sunday 7 May there will be a coronation concert from Winsor Castle, which will be broadcast live on the BBC and will feature ‘global music icons and contemporary stars’. Let’s just move swiftly on from that one, but there is a prize draw for tickets…
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and an industy expert in promotional compliance.