Molly-Mae and the Instagram prize giveaway

Avid readers of this blog – and I know you’re out there – may recall that back in September last year I wrote about an Instagram prize giveaway run by Molly-Mae Hague, she who came second on the fifth series of Love Island, along with beau Tommy Fury. You can read the piece in full here and naturally I recommend that you do that. However, the salient, indeed prescient, sentence was – and although it seems rather narcissistic of me I’m now going to quote myself – “I wouldn’t be surprised if some disgruntled entrants didn’t complain to the ASA about this one.” Well, do you know what? They did.

Prediction comes true

The ASA received 12 complaints about Molly-Mae’s Instagram prize giveaway from people who believed that all the entrants were not included in the ‘final draw’, meaning that all entrants did not have an equal chance of winning. They challenged whether the prize was awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and therefore whether the promotion was administered fairly.

M-M’s response was that she had run the giveaway because, obviously, she is kind and generous, and to celebrate achieving one million YouTube subscribers. The prize was certainly generous and consisted of Apple ‘goodies’, Louis Vuitton luggage, a year’s supply of Filter b Molly-Mae (M-M’s own tanning brand) and a full BeautyWorks transformation (M-M has a substantial BeautyWorks line). M-M had purchased this bumper bundle herself and, as the post didn’t encourage entrants to engage with a particular product or brand, she consequently believed that it wasn’t a promotion and therefore wasn’t covered by the CAP Code.

The ASA disagreed. The post promoted a time-limited opportunity to be entered into a prize draw on the condition that participants liked the post, tagged a friend, subscribed to M-M’s YouTube channel and followed the Instagram accounts @mollymaehague and @filterbymollymae. Given those characteristics, the ASA considered that the post was a promotion in the form of a prize draw and therefore fell under the scope of the CAP Code. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I’m with the ASA on this one.

Prize draws must be run fairly

Now, when it came to how the prize draw was actually conducted, M-M said that in the presence of an independent person she had instructed a member of her management team to pick a hundred entrants at random, out of a hat. These entrants were then checked to make sure they had fulfilled the prize draw criteria and were following the right accounts. If they weren’t, they were replaced by another name drawn from the hat. Each of this group was then assigned a number and the independent person then used a Google random number generator to find the lucky winner.

So M-M did very well to involve an independent person. That was a good move, but it was followed by a series of blunders, which underlined that you can’t just make it up as you go along. You need a plan, you need things like terms and conditions, and you need to abide by the CAP code.

Plan for a successful promotion

The reason she gave the ASA for the rather unusual and undoubtedly unfair method used to identify the winner was that the response to the promotion was overwhelming and unexpected, and the high number of entrants prohibited the use of computer software. I mean, really?

At the time M-M apparently had over five million Insta followers and she was offering a prize worth £8k, so I’d say she should have anticipated a lot of interest. In fact, over a million people liked the post and almost three million comments were left, but that’s pretty much the level of engagement I would have expected for an Instagram account with her reach.

So the ASA concluded that the Instagram prize giveaway was not administered fairly and therefore breached the CAP Code. It told Molly-Mae Hague to ensure her future promotions were administered fairly and that prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance, and by or under the supervision of an independent person.

If you’d like Prizeology to help you run a promotion that isn’t in breach of the CAP Code, do give us a call on 020 7856 0402 or of course you can email us via

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist. 

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