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ASA upholds complaint on Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation mailing

Melanie May | 3 April 2018 | News

ASA has investigated and upheld three issues raised concerning a direct mail piece from Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation.
The Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation mailing from October 2017 encouraged recipients to return the enclosed documents for a chance of winning a cash prize and suggested they also donated to the charity, stating on the envelope: “Claim your prize Sweepstakes … You have been chosen for priority processing. Final Step Required. If you fail to respond, Diabetes Research & Wellness Foundation cannot be responsible for loss of any prize money that you might have won in the random drawing … Don’t miss out!”.
Following a complaint, Brent and Harrow Trading Standards challenged whether the promotion:

In response, the charity said that the mailing had gone out to existing supporters only, and that the text used, such as “eligible for entry”, “this is your opportunity to enter the sweepstakes” and “if you are chosen as our Grand Prize winner” did not categorically state that recipients were winners. They stated that they had used the same wording for a period of years since 2007 and had received no previous complaints.
The charity also said that phrases used such as “winner guaranteed”, “your prize”, “claim your prize” were to engage recipients into participating and to convey the message that all prizes were guaranteed to be awarded after the closure of the draw period. They stated that the programme had run biennially since 2001 and that they had awarded prizes at the end of each two-year draw period.
They also said that participation in the prize draw did not require a contribution to be made to the charity, and that the use of the recipient’s name was building on the already established relationship and that it did not imply or lead to the perception that the entrant was luckier than they were or exaggerated their chance of winning a prize.
The charity said that the ad had been written in-house and that they were willing to work with the ASA to ensure that in the future the ad was compliant with the CAP Code.

ASA findings

ASA upheld all three charges, ruling that the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.198.20, and 8.21 (Prize Promotions).
Among its findings, ASA found that each document contained multiple claims which were all phrased slightly differently which created an overall confusing and ambiguous impression, which it considered meant that consumers could take contradictory meanings as they read through the ad. It also considered that consumers would interpret the claims as meaning that they had won a prize in a sweepstake that could now be claimed.
It also considered that the claims and the multiple use of the recipient’s name would lead the recipient to believe that they were luckier than they were and exaggerated their chances of winning a prize, while in the context of the whole ad, consumers could also interpret the statements regarding giving a donation to mean that by doing so they had a better chance of winning a prize.
ASA has told Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation that the ad must not appear again its current form and that they must ensure that any future ads make it clear that consumers are being offered the opportunity to enter into a sweepstake, and not imply that they have won a prize if they have not, or are luckier than they are, and must not exaggerate their chances of winning a prize.

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