How to request a winners list for a competition
Why is it so difficult to find out who won a competition?
I can’t understand why so many brands don’t want to share the good news that a winner has been chosen!
When a promoter shares details of a winner and congratulates them, it shows followers and customers that their prize promotion was genuine, and that they are a trustworthy and honest brand. It also gives the winner an opportunity to celebrate their win and to say thanks.
On the other hand, if a brand runs a competition, and never mentions a winner – and you can’t find details of a winner when you search competition groups and forums – then it leaves people in doubt that there was ever a prize to be won! And this is when it’s worth asking to see a winners list.
Enquiring about a winners list can be especially useful if you believe the promoter has completely forgotten about the competition. Unfortunately, you’ll only really be suspicious of this if the promotion in question had a LOT of prizes! Sometimes the person in charge of the promotion has left the company, and the remaining staff assumed the prizes went out. Or it could be that the prize sponsor assumes the promoter is contacting the winner, and vice versa – but neither of them has done so.
Unfortunately, many promoters are not helpful when it comes to providing a winners list. Several SuperLucky readers have told me that brands are responding to their requests with the excuse ‘We can’t share details because of GDPR’.
But is this really the case – does data protection regulation mean that promoters never have to share winner’s names?
In this blog post I explain why GDPR is NOT an acceptable excuse to withhold winners’ information – and give guidance on how anyone can request a winners list from a brand or promoter.
ASA guidelines & the CAP Code
Firstly, it’s important to understand what the rules are around publishing winners. All UK prize promotions must follow the CAP Code, which is enforced by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
The CAP Code was updated post-GDPR with this rule:
Promoters must either publish or make available information that indicates that a valid award took place – ordinarily the surname and county of major prizewinners and, if applicable, their winning entries. At or before the time of entry, promoters must inform entrants of their intention to publish or make available the information and give them the opportunity to object to their information being published or made available, or to reduce the amount of information published or made available. In such circumstances, the promoter must nevertheless still provide the information and winning entry to the ASA if challenged. The privacy of prizewinners must not be prejudiced by the publication of personal information and in limited circumstances (for example, in relation to National Savings) promoters may need to comply with a legal requirement not to publish such information.
Promoters must be able to prove they awarded prizes – by publishing winners’ names, or giving them on request. The main exception is NS&I, who cannot share information on winners.
In order to do this, promoters should make it clear in the T&Cs that they intend to publish details of winners – but must also state that the winner can object to this, or limit the amount of information shared.
When winners are informed, the promoter should ask if it’s OK to share their name and county. If a winner objects, then details of the winner shouldn’t be shared with anyone (except the ASA, if requested).
Some promoters forget to include in the T&Cs that they intend to publish winners’ names – this leaves them in a mess if a winners list request comes through, which is when they use the GDPR excuse to try to wriggle out of it! But GDPR isn’t an acceptable excuse – the promoter should still contact the winners and ask for their permission AFTER they’ve received their prizes.
What does a winners list look like?
Winners lists should include the prize won, alongside the surname and county of the winner – sometimes it will include first names too. If a winner objects to their information being shared, details on the list may be replaced with ‘Redacted’ or ‘opted out’.
Publishing names and counties may prove difficult for a social media promotion, but the promoter should still be requesting this information from the winner.
PromoVeritas have their own website to list winners at www.promowinners.com – this features surname and county (which is what is generally expected).
Some brands will post a list of winners in a blog post or on their social media, but for a lot of promotions, winners lists aren’t publicly available so you will need to send an enquiry.
When to ask for a winners list?
Most decent promoters will include details in the T&Cs of when the winner will be contacted, but this doesn’t mean you can start hassling them for winner’s details right away by commenting ‘Who won?’ on their social posts! Be patient, and be polite.
It’s good practice for a promoter NOT to announce a winner publicly until they have permission from the winner. As the ASA recommend a winner is given 28 days to respond to a winning notification, this could take quite some time. If the winner doesn’t respond, depending on T&Cs, the promoter may have to wait for 28 days before contacting a reserve winner, and going through the same process. And of course, some winners refuse the prize, which means the promoter has to re-draw a new winner.
In the case of multiple winners, a promoter usually waits to hear back from all of them before a winners list is published.
So there can be plenty of delays to the process of getting a complete list of winners. I usually wait for at least 2 weeks after the date the winner should have been contacted.
On the flip side, you also need to make sure you don’t wait too long before enquiring – some promoters state that winners details will only be available after a certain date, and then for 2 or 3 months, so you’ll need to contact them in that window.
I tend to save the T&Cs of promotions with lots of prizes (100+). If I don’t hear of a single winner on social media or comping forums a month after it’s closed, I’ll email the promoter to ask what’s going on. Generally with any more than 20 prizes, you can be certain that at least one winner will pop up in the comping community – which is why I get suspicious if that doesn’t happen.
How to request a winners list
Most T&Cs should include details of how you can view or request a winners list. If there’s no information, check for a contact email in the T&Cs and try that. If there’s no contact details at all, try sending a private message on social media.
Most promoters will give out a list via email. Some make it difficult and ask you to post a stamped, self addressed envelope so they can send back a printed list – but it’s worth contacting them and asking if they can supply it via email (it saves them a bit of admin too!)
In your message or email, make it clear which promotion you’re contacting them about (include a link or a photo if necessary). Be polite – tell them if you enjoyed entering the competition.
Example:“I really enjoyed taking part in your recent Instagram competition and wondered if you could send me a list of the ten winners please.”
Most of the winners lists I send off for are algorithmic instant wins where less than 10% of advertised prizes are won, but I certainly don’t praise the brand for running those… Lots of agencies are used to my enquiries, so I may take the tongue-in-cheek approach: “Could I please request a winners list for your recent algorithmic instant win promotion. I am interested to see how many prizes were awarded!”
If it’s a social media comp rather than a big on-pack promotion, you might choose to be less formal with your contact:
Example: “I really enjoyed your recent prize draw. I read in the T&Cs that winners should have been contacted on 4 August but I’m not sure that they have. Is there a reason for the delay?”
Example: “Could you let me know if the winner has been contacted yet, and will you be announcing their name? So many prize promotions are scams these days that it really helps to see a real winner, and know that a promotion was legitimately run.”
If the promoter refuses to tell you who won
If the promoter refuses to give winners details due to GDPR or privacy issues, respond politely, referring to the CAP Code. If there was just a single winner, the likelihood is that the promoter will respond to say that the winner didn’t want their details published – but if there were multiple prizes, the chances of all winners refusing is very slim so you should persevere with enquiries.
Example: “I appreciate GDPR means you can’t share winners lists without permission, but please note that CAP Code 8.28.5 states that promoters must inform entrants of their intention to publish this information at or before the time of entry (ie. in T&Cs). You should ask a winner’s permission to share their details – if they decline, you can simply put ‘retracted’ on the winners list. Even if you didn’t include this clause in T&Cs it’s not too late to contact winners now to ask permission for names to be published, or made available on request. “
If you still have no luck, the threat of an ASA complaint is usually enough to get things moving! Include the sentence:
“If you’re not able to forward the list to me, I’ll submit a formal complaint to the ASA to request it”
Hopefully you won’t have to go ahead and do this, but if you decide to do so, you’ll find guidance in my post How to complain to the ASA. The ASA get a lot of complaints, and winners lists won’t take priority, so they may not investigate your complaint.
Can I share a winners list?
If you’ve received a winners list privately, you shouldn’t share this on a public forum or social media. If a fellow comper has asked for you to check the list to see if their name appears on it, that’s OK. You might want to comment on a relevant social media post, SuperLucky post or comping forum to let people know you’ve received the winners list and how many names were on it, so people are aware.
What if the list doesn’t have enough winners?
If the winners list is too short, query it with the promoter. Some promoters say that prizes were not claimed – but these prizes should then be offered to reserve winners. The promoter may have forgotten about doing this.
Example: “I see the winners list lists 350 names when there were 400 prizes available – were winners re-drawn for the unclaimed prizes?”
Many compers have asked for winners lists, and been informed that all winners have been contacted and prizes dispatched. Then, rather conveniently, WEMs (Winning E-Mails) start arriving in inboxes – proving that the promoter had forgotten about awarding prizes!
This happened with huge Santa Maria and ASDA free entry prize draws, each of which advertised hundreds of winners.Both companies were adamant that winners had been informed, but after my refusal to believe them and perseverance, eventually the winners did receive their WEMs and prizes!
It might seem rather time-consuming to ask for a winners list, but a huge number of prizes go unawarded because people don’t hold promoters accountable and chase them up about their comps. If you do receive a winners list for a competition, please comment on this post to let me know. And tell me if you’ve had any trouble getting a list from a promoter too. Last year I tried to get a winners list for Trek’s instant win on pack promotion and was unable to – even the ASA couldn’t help. I can only assume that 0 of the 200 advertised Fitbits were won, and they didn’t want to admit it – I certainly won’t be buying their products again!
If you found this post helpful, you might ant to check these out too: