How to run a prize draw – instant wins

In this post I’m going to focus on a prize promotion mechanism called an instant win. No doubt you’re ahead of me here, but, yes, an instant win is a type of prize draw in which a consumer wins instantly. Sounds simple, doesn’t it, but of course instant win promotions are not necessarily as straightforward as they might seem.

They are particularly popular for on-pack promotions, but, as I’m sure you appreciate, concealing the latest 8K Ultra HD TV in a muesli box isn’t exactly practical. However, as long as a consumer discovers instantly that they have won a prize and certain conditions required by the CAP Code related to claiming the prize are fulfilled, it is still an instant win.

Genuine instant wins can happen, though. In a promotion Prizeology worked on for Symington’s, £50,000 in cash – actual notes – was inserted into Mug Shot packs (that was a logistical and security challenge, I can tell you), so anyone purchasing a Mug Shot and opening it to make themselves a nice cup of noodles knew they had won instantly, because there was a lovely, crisp fiver inside. Sweet. Or rather savoury.

Fair and random

First of all, though, whether it’s a voucher that can be exchanged for a product, a winning number or, as in the Symington’s campaign, actual cash, what the CAP Code says is that your prize promotion must be run fairly and that the prizes must be randomly distributed.

In practice, this means that you need to ensure all winning packs aren’t delivered to, say, shops in the Norwich area and that consumers in, for example, Northampton get the chance to win, too. Modern supply chains make that relatively straightforward, but you have to liaise with distributors to ensure it happens.

You also have to be able to prove that the distribution was fair and random, so hold on to the relevant paperwork. Best practice is to have the process independently audited (which is something Prizeology often does for clients).

Instant answers

According to the ASA. it’s not an instant win if you have to go to a website and register in order to discover whether you’ve won a prize. Although it’s obviously useful for data capture and communications, having to create an account before being able to proceed is considered to be barrier for consumers, so you need to be careful about how you describe the promotion on the pack – is the win really instant?

Prizeology recently ran a prize promotion for Pepsi. When consumers purchased a Pepsi in a café or bar, they were offered ice, a slice and a scratch card. Each scratch card had a concealed unique reference number (or URN) and by texting it to a mobile platform set up by Prizeology, they immediately got a text back saying whether they had won a prize or not. This met the criteria and was a truly ‘instant’ response.

Clear terms and conditions

As ever, you need to cover off the caveats and the technicalities in the prize draw terms and conditions. These must be very clear and they must be on the pack as well. Abbreviated terms and conditions are acceptable, but they key points must be present. Knowing what those key points are and how the information can be expressed succinctly but accurately is quite a skill (one Prizeology possesses).

In the terms and conditions you might want to include an explanation of how the prizes are allocated as well, especially if you’re employing a specific subset of instant win mechanism known as magic moments.

With magic moments, entrants not only need some kind of URN to send to a mobile platform or enter online, they also need submit their URN at the right randomly chosen moment (humans aren’t great at that sort of task, so at Prizeology we get a computer to do it instead). Again, this needs to be made clear on the pack and in the full terms and conditions.

As well as protecting you as the promoter, robust terms and conditions ensure entrants understand what they’re getting into – the CAP Code is essentially predicated on ensuring that consumers don’t experience any surprises, other than the pleasurable one of actually winning a prize – but get those right and instant wins are an incredibly effective way of promoting your brand and rewarding your customers.

And, of course, if you’re looking for an ‘instant win’ on the prize promotions front, do give Prizeology a call on 020 7856 0402 or drop us an email via

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist.

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2020. 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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