Essential terms and conditions for a competition

Hosting a competition or prize draw is a great way to raise brand awareness and attract potential new customers or blog readers – but it’s not something that should be rushed into!

If you’re hosting a promotion with prizes in the UK, you must have a set of Terms and Conditions which are easy to understand and easy to find. T&Cs don’t have to be long and boring – on the contrary, it’s better if they are as short and simple as possible!

The Advertising Standards Authority advises on their website that ‘All promotional marketing should clearly include all significant T&Cs upfront in initial marketing material’. This could be on the product packaging, a supermarket pop-up stand, in a magazine, a tweet, a blog post, an Instagram caption – or anywhere else where people see the promotion advertised.

There may not be much room to include full T&Cs in the marketing material, which is why the ASA give guidance on which ones are most important. These are the terms and conditions that help a consumer to understand the promotion, and to decide whether to participate. These T&Cs should be included in the initial marketing communications.

Significant T&Cs should include:

  • Closing date (and start date, if applicable) – it’s a good idea to include a time, and use 11.59pm rather than midnight, as midnight can be considered both the start and the end of the day!
  • How to enter 
  • Prize details
  • Entry restrictions (age, country of residence etc.)
  • Whether a purchase is required

This information can easily fit into a single tweet, for example:

We’re giving away three prizes of a meal for two (valid Monday – Friday). To enter, Follow us, Retweet and Reply with your favourite meal from our menu. T&Cs: Open to UK residents aged 18+. Winner chosen at random. Closing date 11pm on 21 March 2019.

For most simple giveaways on social media, this information is really all that’s required – but the ASA do recommend that a full set of Terms and Conditions should be ‘easily accessible throughout the promotion’. On Twitter, the T&Cs could be on a web page linked at the end of a tweet. On Facebook they could be a ‘Note’ on the page. On Instagram ‘For T&Cs see link in bio’ could be used in the caption – and then a link to the T&Cs used in the promoter’s bio.

Full T&Cs should include:

  • Any restriction on the number of entries. eg. One entry per person, per day.
  • How the winner is chosen. eg. at random, or judged
  • Whether there is a cash alternative to the prize, or if it’s transferable to someone else.
  • When winners will receive their prizes. ASA recommend within a month of the closing date – if it will take longer, include this information.
  • How and when winners will be notified. Include a deadline for the winner to respond (ASA recommend 28 days). eg. ‘The winners will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date, and must respond within 28 days to claim their prize.’
  • How the winner will be chosen. If it’s a competition, include criteria for judging entries. eg. ‘Winners will be decided by a panel of independent judges on the basis of creativity and relevance to the brand.
  • Copyright information (for photo and video competitions). eg. ‘Copyright to the entries will remain with the entrant but the entrant licences SuperLucky to use their photographs to promote the brand across websites and social media’
  • Whether the winners or entries will be used for publicity. If a promoter wants to announce the winner’s name, this needs to be mentioned in the T&Cs. Note that the CAP Code rule on giving a winner’s name on request has changed – a winner can now object to their details being shared.
  • The promoter’s name and address. 

Don’t change the T&Cs!

The ASA states that ‘Promoters cannot change terms and conditions part way through the promotion, or create and enforce T&Cs retrospectively.’

Once there has been an entry into a prize promotion, Terms & Conditions should not be changed. If T&Cs are changed, then every entrant should be contacted to let them know. Closing dates should not be extended unless there’s a very good reason (usually due to technical difficulties with a website, or delays in getting the promotional products into stores).


  • If the promotion is going to be hosted on multiple social media platforms, make this clear in the T&Cs – entrants should be aware that their chance of winning is smaller due to the winner being chosen from multiple sources. Also make it clear if it’s a single prize, or a prize per platform.
  • Stating when the winner is announced or chosen doesn’t confirm when the competition actually closes – use a closing date instead!
  • Bloggers using Rafflecopter or Gleam widgets rarely include a closing date in the accompanying text – there’s a countdown in the widget, but the actual closing date and time should be clearly stated in the blog post too.
  • Rafflecopter and Gleam giveaways usually need more explanation than other entry methods – ensure the entrant knows if the tasks in the widget are mandatory or optional.

Don’t let all these rules and regulations put you off! Running a competition properly can be fun and rewarding, and publishing clear T&Cs at the launch will help make it a success.

Finally, here’s a good and bad example of recent prize promotions on social media.

Good example – @Collins_Ref

Collins Reference have included essential details, and there’s a link to full T&Cs.

Bad example – @WorldDutyFree

World Duty Free haven’t included a closing date, exact prize details or number of winners.

Further resources

For more advice on running fair and successful prize promotions, check out my other blog posts:

Disclaimer: This post contains suggested guidelines and does not constitute legal advice. It’s recommended that you should check local laws affecting prize promotions, and consult with your own legal representation if you have any questions about running prize promotions.


1 Response

  1. Laura Turner says:

    Got your book the other day (which I’m loving by the way and read all about the importance of terms and conditions which I always ignored before. Only yesterday I bothered to read the terms and conditions on the online Hobgoblin competition which I’ve been doing for over a month now. Had just assumed that the winners were picked lucky dip style, but NO…..there is a chosen moment allocated each day where anyone playing has the opportunity to win a prize. This means I can triple my chances each day by spreading my three games over the day. BRILLIANT! Thanks Di.

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