GDPR, competitions and compers

You’ve probably heard the letters GDPR mentioned an awful lot lately! It’s General Data Protection Regulation and will come into force across Europe on 25th May 2018.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is a regulation on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union. Businesses must obtain consent from new and existing customers who subscribe to their email lists, or have their details stored. In addition, businesses must be able to show how and when they obtained consent. Because it’s a regulation, it is legally binding – meaning a business that fails to comply could get a huge fine of up to €20 million or 4% of global turnover!

Individuals can ask businesses exactly what information they have about them, who it is shared with and what it has been used for. They can also ask for all their information to be deleted (the “right to be forgotten”).

Mailing lists

If you subscribe to a lot of mailing lists you’re probably already receiving emails from quite a few! They want to check that you’re still interested in hearing from them – and you will need to complete an affirmative action in order to continue to receive email updates (ie. you will be asked to click a link to subscribe, rather than to unsubscribe!). In most cases, you will automatically be removed from their records UNLESS you take action by clicking a link, replying to an email, etc.

If you’re swamped by email newsletters, this could be a good opportunity for you to cut down on the number of email lists you’re subscribed to! I already use the free tool to collate all my email subscriptions into one daily email, but I’ll be going through these to check the opt-in requests and ignoring any that I no longer want to receive.

Will GDPR affect prize draws and competitions?

One of the things we commonly see on an entry form (online or printed) is a tick box stating ‘Please tick if you want to hear from us in future’. Confusingly, on many of these forms it might say ‘Please tick if you DON’T want to hear from us in future’. Or the box itself might already be ticked – and you have to untick it if you don’t want to subscribe to their mailing list!

This has always been misleading and confusing, and GDPR aims to simplify things by only allowing an affirmative opt-in action. ie. You MUST tick a box to allow the company to contact you – they cannot assume that by entering a prize draw or competition, that you want to be contacted again in future (unless of course, you’re the winner!)

Most importantly, this will see the end of pre-ticked boxes or small print that states your details will be passed on to third parties – the awful feature on many survey websites (please note the examples below are from two websites I would NEVER recommend you use!)

So, a prize draw entry form with ‘By entering this prize draw, you will be subscribed to our mailing list and can unsubscribe at any time’ in small print below will no longer be permitted (see example below from

Instead, there should be a empty tick box which the entrant must tick to opt in to further communication. Entering a prize draw and joining a mailing list should be treated as different actions, and not combined – the entrant completes a form to enter the prize draw (and accepts the T&Cs), then if there’s an option, they can choose to tick a separate box to receive further information.

So, prize draws where you can’t enter without ticking a box to opt in will no longer be allowed (see the example from TopFox below).

It remains to be seen how GDPR will affect automatic entry prize draws too – Swipe to Win as an example, where you’re entered to win simply by purchasing a product (and might well be unaware that you’re even entered into a prize draw!). All Tesco’s current promotions are now text to win, suggesting that their ‘Buy Scan Win’ promotions have been retired.


Unfortunately, the GDPR regulations won’t be able to do much about the vast amounts of spam email we get – much of which is from outside the UK. You’ll have to rely on junk mail filters, and also flag any dodgy mail as spam when it arrives in your inbox. If you’ve received a spam email from a UK-based company, you can report it to the ICO.

If you have a concern about the way an organisation is handling your personal information, you can contact the ICO to investigate.

I’ll keep this blog post updated as we discover more about the effects of GDPR on running prize promotions. Please leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

4 Responses

  1. John Ettery says:

    I thinks it’s great that they won’t be able to force you into signing to their newsletters to enter a comp. I have heard about GDPR a lot recenlty, and I have been getting lots of emails asking if I wanted to continue with newsletters, and to be honest I couldn’t understand why? Now I know, so Thank You Di, for explaining it all.

  2. Nikki Hayes says:

    I signed up to MyOffers many years ago when I was a fresh and naive comper – couldn’t believe the deluge of spam I received! Happily I’m wiser these days and statements like the one you showed above (particular the contact via telephone and SMS) mean I immediately close the page and go no further with the “competition” entry :o)

  3. Lydia Frew says:

    Even the big companies are not on top of this yet. Argos already has a comp running that finishes in June but is making newsletter subscription a condition of entry. It’s ok for now but on 25th May, halfway through the entry period, it will breach GDPR! I notified them but they just offered to remove MY name from their mailing list! I recommended they pass my comments onto their legal department.

  4. Frances Heaton says:

    Another excellent article, thanks Di. Have already received lots of emails asking whether I want to keep receiving various company emails, and like you say, it’s a good chance to lighten the overwhelming email load.
    The research you do and insight into various rules and regulations is invaluable for us compers.
    Thank you, very much appreciated.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *