The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) today ruled that an £8,000 online prize draw run by Love Island’s Molly-Mae Hague in September last year was not administered fairly and was not awarded in accordance with the laws of chance.

The prize draw offered participants the chance to win a variety of luxury goods including handbags and a laptop, and was organised by the influencer (with the assistance of her management team) to celebrate reaching 1 million subscribers on YouTube.

The prize draw received 12 complaints, challenging whether the prizes were awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and whether the promotion was administered fairly, as is required under Rule 8 of the CAP Code, which deals specifically with promotions.

One of the key points argued by Ms Hague in her response was that the prize draw did not constitute a promotion (on the basis that it did not provide an incentive to engage with a brand or a product) and therefore did not fall within the scope of the CAP Code. The ASA however rejected this argument, pointing out that the prize draw incentivised users to like the post, tag a friend, subscribe to Ms. Hague’s YouTube channel and follow her Instagram accounts. In particular the post required participants to follow the Instagram account of Ms. Hague’s tanning brand, Filter by Molly Mae. This was therefore sufficient for the prize draw to constitute a promotion within the meaning of the CAP Code.

The ASA also considered that the total value of the prize draw (£8,000) was likely to generate a high level of response and that this should have been anticipated and properly planned for by the influencer and her management team. The ASA did not accept Ms. Hague’s argument that the high number of entrants prohibited the use of computer software to randomly select winners. Furthermore the ASA stated that insufficient evidence had been provided to show that the manual selection of the 100 shortlisted winners was made randomly and expressed concerns that the size of the original pool of entries from which this selection was made was unclear.

Ultimately the ASA found that the promotion was in breach of CAP Code rules 8.1 and 8.2 (Sales promotions), as well as 8.10 (Availability), 8.14 (Administration) and 8.24 (Prize promotions).

Molly-Mae Hague has been warned by the ASA that all future promotions must be administered fairly and that all prizes must be awarded to genuine winners in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person.

Key Takeaways

  • A competition or prize draw may still fall within the scope of the CAP Code even if it doesn’t explicitly promote a particular brand or product.
  • When organising a promotion or prize draw, promoters must ensure that:
    • any conditions for participation and/or selection criteria in relation to promotions and prize draws are clearly and consistently communicated to potential participants;
    • they are able to demonstrate (ideally by means of documentary evidence) that they have made a reasonable estimate of the likely response to any promotion and that they have put in place adequate resources to accommodate the anticipated level of response; and
    • each stage of any promotion is administered in a transparent and fair manner. In relation to prize draws, all participants must be included in any selection process and the winner must be chosen at random, in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person.

Hayley Brady
Hayley Brady
+44 20 7466 2079

James Balfour
James Balfour
Senior Associate
+44 20 7466 7582

Claire Wiseman
Claire Wiseman
Professional Support Lawyer
+44 20 7466 2267