Easter prize promotions: don’t make these five mistakes
What comes to mind if I say the word ‘Easter’ to you? A nice big chocolate egg? A freshly toasted hot cross bun dripping with melted butter? Perhaps you think of cute little bunnies, a jolly bunch of daffodils or the opportunity to get stuck into some DIY?
If any of these are what Easter means to you, that’s fine – you’re not alone. They are also all themes that have been and can be fruitfully used for prize promotions. As I’ve said before, Easter is a great time to run a prize promotion, and it is, but Easter is also a religious occasion, a Christian festival during which the death, burial and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ is commemorated.
Indeed, you might recall the 2017 National Trust Easter egg hunts controversy, when then Prime Minster Theresa May and the Archbishop of York criticised the apparent absence of the word ‘Easter’ from the marketing for the hunts, the implication being that the religious aspects of Easter were being marginalised. (The National Trust and Cadbury, who ran the events, insisted that Easter was mentioned many times, although the partnership did end in 2020 with the Trust announcing that it wanted to make chocolate less of a focus of its Easter activities.)
A fundamental principle of the CAP Code is that any marketing communication, and that includes any prize promotion, must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious offence. Indeed, particular care should be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, age or – yes – religion. Clearly you need to be very sensitive, but pay attention, steer clear of the following pitfalls and you should be able to ensure compliance with the code and avoid inadvertently causing serious offence.
Don’t link the sacred symbols or of a particular religion, for example the Christian crucifixion, to a promotional message. Beyond the context of Easter, the same would apply to the depiction of gods or spiritual figures such as the Prophet Mohammed or Buddha, or sacred texts like the Koran.
Mind your language
It’s not that you can’t use religious or biblical phrases. We use them in everyday life all the time – think ‘Hallelujah!’ or ‘Tidings of great joy!’ However, if you’re going to use ecclesiastical language in your prize promotion, make sure you don’t use it disrespectfully or to ridicule religion.
No sex please
Overtly sexualised images can certainly cause outrage among some religious groups, and making a connection between sex and religion can be offensive – for example, portraying nuns in a sexual manner would be inappropriate – so, particularly if you’re portraying sex or nudity, do take the context into account.
Of course, you want your people to notice your prize promotion, but unless there is a clear justification, at Easter or any other time of the year, don’t be tempted to draw on religion to grab their attention.
All joking aside
You can probably get away with it if your prize promotion pokes gentle fun, but it’s a very fine line and what I see as ‘light-hearted’ you might consider upsetting and unacceptable. If you decide to take the risk and go ahead with humour, just make sure you don’t mock and you don’t denigrate. However, if in doubt, maybe your Easter prize promotion should just stick to chocolate eggs and bunnies, because surely they won’t upset anyone!