ASA bans ‘misleading’ Walkers ad

By James Ridler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Walkers Snack’s Spell & Go ad was banned by the ASA
Walkers Snack’s Spell & Go ad was banned by the ASA

Related tags: Promotion

Crisp manufacturer Walkers Snacks’s Spell & Go holiday competition was deemed “misleading and likely to cause unnecessary disappointment”, by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The ruling follows an investigation into the promotion by the ASA on April 18 after receiving 112 complaints from consumers who challenged whether the promotion was being conducted equitably and fairly.

In the competition, consumers were encouraged enter codes from promotional packs of Walkers, crisps onto a special website to receive a letter of the alphabet. This could then spell out the name of a destination to win a holiday at that location.

Consumers were offered five chances to swap one of their letters with a randomly selected letter through the site.

But a number complained that certain letters had been withheld – specifically the letters C, D and K – which were needed to win a holiday.

There were also complaints that some on-pack codes were not being accepted on Walkers’ promotional website.

20,000 holidays

In response, Walkers said there was a sufficient amount of ‘type one’letters (C, D and K) in circulation to ensure 20,000 holidays could be won.

The ASA was satisfied that there were enough of the type oneletters distributed via promotional packs of crisps.

However, the advertising watchdog’s investigation found that the random swap feature did not feature any of the type oneletters.

Advertising on the Spell & Go ​website claimed the random swap feature selected a new letter at random from a ‘pool’ of letters that were stored in a database and that the swap was “instant and all letters are treated equally”​.

While Walkers said it had added the type one letters to the random swap, the ASA ruled that consumers could be misled.

“We considered the original limitation of the random swaps mechanism to only ‘type two’ letters was a significant condition likely to influence a consumer’s decision and understanding about the promotion,” ​ruled the ASA.

‘Mechanism was misleading’

“The omission of that significant condition from the references to the random swap mechanism was misleading and likely to cause unnecessary disappointment to consumers.”

The ASA did not uphold complaints that codes were not being recognised by the Spell & Go ​website.

“We noted the regime of quality checks carried out at Walkers Snacks’s factories, and considered that, in the context that nine million promotional packs were produced every day, the overall number of issues relating to on-pack codes that had been reported to Walkers Snacks was small.”

The ASA ruled that the advertisement must not appear again in the form complained about and that Walkers must ensure that in similar future promotions, it ensured that significant conditions for all aspects of the promotion were communicated to consumers.

A Walkers spokeswoman said: “We welcome the ASA’s recognition that our Spell and Go promotion was fair as everyone who participated had an equal chance of winning one of the 20,000 holidays available.

“We appreciate that the online letter swapping mechanic could have been clearer and we will ensure all future promotions take this feedback on board.”

Related topics: Ambient foods, Legal

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