Five prize promotions frights

Halloween can be a spectacular hook for a prize promotion (and here’s some advice on how to run one), but there are also some nasty little traps you can fall into and it’s these I want to talk about now. So here they are – five prize promotions frights – the five fatal errors that are giving me the heebie-jeebies this Halloween.

  1. Don’t let the cheats in

Watch out! There’s one behind you! They can squeeze in through keyholes and under doors, and they can shape-shift, you know. For example, if the competition rules say only one entry per person, assuming we won’t notice they might make multiple entries using variations on their name, like, say, Mr Spook, Mr Spooky and Mr Spooksy.

If you haven’t run a prize promotion before, you might be unpleasantly surprised by the number of people who are out to trick you and treat themselves to a prize that isn’t rightfully theirs. But there’s no two ways about it, this is fraud, as I spelled out in a blog I wrote a year or so ago. At Prizeology we always do our due diligence and we make sure we stay a magic wand’s length ahead of the cheats.

  1. Don’t omit #ad

Right, having established that to be a successful prize promotions promoter you need eyes in the back of your head – or, even better, a head that swivels through 360 degrees – let’s imagine that you’re running a Halloween prize draw on Instagram with a high-profile influencer.

That’s great, you should get excellent engagement and to assist you the ASA has an excellent publication called An Influencers Guide To Making Clear That Ads Are Ads. However, I’ll cut straight to the chase and tell you that all posts about your Halloween prize draw must be headed by #ad.

You need to write this commitment into the contract with your influencer, too. Pretty Little Thing did that, but #ad still got left off promotional posts on TikTok and the ASA upheld a complaint against the fashion retailer. That’s a cautionary tale for you.

  1. Don’t extend the closing date

OK, it might seem obvious – you set a closing date and you stick to it, don’t you? You enshrine it in the terms and conditions, rather like carving it on a tombstone. You do that because that makes it fair for everyone who enters. Except Elite Competitions didn’t seem to understand this.

Elite ran a prize draw with a main cash prize of £10,000 plus four additional prizes of £5000. To enter you had to buy a ticket. That in itself is not an issue as long as there’s also a free route to entry so that the draw doesn’t become a lottery under the Gambling Act 2005 (in fact, the free route to entry was an issue in this case, but that’s another matter). However, when Elite didn’t sell sufficient tickets to fund the prizes, it simply extended the closing date. As the ASA pointed out, in no universe can you do that.

  1. Don’t lose the postal entries

That’s what ITV did. Or at least I can only assume they did, unless the sacks of answers on a postcard to a series of prize draws and competitions that took place over a number of years were somehow spirited away.  Certainly, the entries weren’t included in the draws and those entrants didn’t have the opportunity take part and therefore the chance to win, which was grossly (although not in a green slime kind of way) unfair on them. In its defence, ITV did hand itself in to Ofcom, but Ofcom gave the company a stiff telling off. There’s more information here, because you really don’t want to get tangled up in that web.


  1. Don’t forget to deliver the prize

Finally, this one is such a no-brainer I’m tempted to say it would be crystal clear even to Frankenstein’s Monster, but apparently it wasn’t evident to a company called Luxsleeps. An Instagrammer ran a prize promotion with them. A winner was drawn, but the prize, which was a bed, never materialised and complaints were eventually made to the ASA.

The lack of basic follow-through was very disappointing for the winner and no doubt damaging to the reputation of the Instagrammer. Luxsleeps probably weren’t that bothered – Trustpilot reviews suggest they consistently fail to deliver to customers and are serial name-changers – but that doesn’t change the prize promotions mantra that prizes must be despatched.

So stay safe this Halloween and if you’d like Prizeology to help you keep the walking dead away and avoid the five prize promotions frights, either put a lit pumpkin in the window or contact us via 020 7856 0402 or

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Founder and Chief Prizeologist. 

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.




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