An £8,000 Instagram giveaway promoted by Love Island contestant Molly-Mae Hague, breached the UK Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) promotion rules, a recent decision of the ASA has determined.
In September 2020, Ms Hague (who has more than 5 million followers on Instagram, and 1.5 million subscribers on YouTube), offered one of her followers the chance to win approximately £8,000 worth of luxury designer goods, including handbags, a laptop and products from her fake tan range. To enter, her followers were asked to like the Instagram post, tag a friend and follow her personal Instagram page, the Instagram page of her tanning brand and to subscribe to her YouTube channel.
The Instagram post in question was liked close to 1.2 million times and attracted almost 3 million comments.
After the giveaway, the ASA received 12 complaints from individuals who believed that not all of the entrants were included in the ‘final draw’ and so did not have an equal and fair chance of winning. The complainants challenged whether: (i) the prize was awarded in accordance with the laws of chance; and (ii) the promotion was administered fairly.
Rule 8.24 of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) code states that “Promoters of prize draws must ensure that prizes are awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and, unless winners are selected by a computer process that produces verifiably random results, by an independent person, or under the supervision of an independent person.”
Ms Hague told the ASA that the winner was chosen from a random selection of 100 entrants, stating that due to the high number of entrants, she was prohibited from using number generating computer software. Each of the 100 entrants shortlisted were manually checked to verify that they had followed the relevant social media accounts and had completed each step of the giveaway’s requirements and if they hadn’t, they were replaced with a different individual. From this group of 100 randomly selected entries, the profiles were assigned a number and an independent person then used a Google number picker which chose the winner.
The ASA found, however, that Ms Hague had uploaded an Instagram Story after the giveaway had closed, which stated that the winner had actually been picked from a smaller shortlisted group of 25 entrants. It was “concerned by the inconsistencies in the information provided” and stated that Ms Hague had failed to provide any evidence that the narrowed down group had been chosen randomly using computer software or that the prize was awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person.
The ASA upheld the complaints on both issues and concluded that the promotion was not administered fairly.
Ms Hague was told to ensure that any future promotions were administered fairly and that prizes were awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person.
The findings serve a useful reminder to influencers and content creators alike that it is imperative to adhere to the advertising rules and to carefully consider how promotions run via social media channels are conducted and the importance of ensuring that they are truly fair and give equal opportunity to entrants to win.