The U.K. Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint alleging that an online “instant-win” promotion organized by Kettle Foods Ltd. was misleading because it required participants to register before finding out if they had won a prize. According to ASA, the U.K. Code of Non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (CAP Code) states that “participants in instant-win promotions must get their winnings at once or must know immediately what they have won and how to claim without delay, cost or administrative barriers.”

Kettle Foods reportedly advertised “instant win prizes” on its potato chip packages, which featured a unique code with instructions directing entrants to a website. Before viewing their potential winnings, consumers were asked to provide identifying information, including full name, postal code, telephone number, email address, date of birth, and a chosen password for subsequent visits. As required by law, the company also offered a “no purchase necessary route” for Republic of Ireland (ROI) consumers who could use a “mastercode” once per day to enter the sweepstakes. Because regular participants tended to use the button intended for free-entry customers, Kettle Foods opted to have all users provide geographic information through the same process and then redirect ROI entrants to a different page.

ASA acknowledged these challenges but argued that the promotion should not have been advertised as an “instant win” sweepstakes because the information on the chip packages did not indicate any need to enter consumer information in addition to the code. “We considered that the requirement to register and enter personal details was significant information about how to participate, and that its omission was likely to mislead consumers about the promotion,” concluded ASA. “Because the promotion referred to ‘instant win prizes’ but included delays and an administrative barrier, and because it misleadingly implied that consumers would find out if they had won simply by visiting a website and entering a code, we concluded that the promotion had breached the Code.”