Less than 1% of prizes awarded in the McCain Great British Raffle

Back in February 2017, I blogged about the McCain Great British raffle. A big budget promotion with a £3 million prize fund (28,515 prizes in total). It seemed too good to be true didn’t it? So I read the T&Cs carefully, and realised it was a promotion where the prizes are only available to be won – and they will only all be won if every code from every promotional McCain packet is entered on the website. Yup, it WAS too good to be true.

McCain Great Village Raffle - how many prizes were given away?

Now this type of misleading promotion isn’t uncommon (although, having said that, thankfully it IS becoming rarer!) – and there’s nothing legally wrong with it. My issue with this type of instant win is that consumers are swayed by the promise of such high numbers of prizes, thinking they really do have a good chance of winning. But according to the ASA, “it’s important promotions deal with participants fairly and honourably”. I felt that McCain weren’t being fair, and that’s why I spoke to BBC News about the Great British Raffle (and other misleading instant win promotions) last year.

Fast forward to February 2018. The Great Village Raffle has finally ended, and the list of winners has been released.

McCain gave away just 160 of the advertised 28,515 prizes.

Of these 160 prizes, there were none of the ten Mini cars advertised, none of the VIP Emmerdale experiences and just four of the 500 indulgent country spa retreats. The prizes awarded were mainly piglet adoptions, beauty treatments and meals. The percentage of prizes given away was a measly 0.56%!

I’ll be honest. I love a good on-pack promotion, and I like chips. So I would have still have bought McCain fries if the packets said ‘We’re giving away 160 prizes worth £5,000!’, and guaranteed to give away all prizes in a prize draw, or via winning moments. It’s still a half decent prize fund! Ridiculously extreme figures like ‘£3 million of prizes’ just aren’t necessary to get people interested – and when those prizes are advertised but not awarded, consumers lose their trust in a brand.

Hopefully, the bad PR surrounding the Great British Raffle has encouraged agencies and brands to take a look at the format of their on-pack promotions and marketing, and check that they’re being honest with their existing and potential customers. Although they still need to work hard to overcome the opinion of many consumers that all competitions and prize draws are a scam!

The good news is that in 2018 I’ve not yet seen any ‘prizes are available to be won’ instant win promotions on supermarket shelves. Promoters are being more transparent – they’re telling us the odds of winning in the small print, or offering extra prizes in a prize draw for losing entrants. Even former offender Applewood Cheese have opted for a prize draw for their new on-pack promotion, rather than a dodgy instant win! Many promoters now offer a simplified ‘FAQ’ page on their website as an easy-to-understand alternative to more formal T&Cs. And brands like Nestlé are offering thousands of guaranteed prizes in fun promotions like KitKat Joe the Mug, and Star Wars.

As compers, let’s continue to champion the brands and agencies who run legal, decent, honest and truthful prize promotions – and don’t be afraid to speak up if you feel you’ve been misled by advertising (particularly if it’s involved a purchase!)

Further reading:

15 Responses

  1. Well done Di for making consumers, the BBC and ASA aware of this “scam” type of promotion.
    A small victory for yourself on behalf of all compers, and hopefully a lesson learned by McCain.

  2. Liam Bishop says:

    Pretty disappointing from McCain. The sad thing is that the vast majority of people won’t know and won’t have seen anything bad about it, and by and large they would have gotten good PR from customers from running such a large competition. Glad they are being called out on it!

    They clearly would have had an idea about win rate beforehand from whatever analysis they would have done so they must just have been laughing the whole time.

    • Di says:

      I’ve been asked to go back onto BBC Radio 4 ‘You and Yours’ to talk about this promotion – and I know there are complaints being forwarded to the ASA about it, so hopefully it’s not the last the general public will hear of it! I do hope the agency responsible realise it’s not a ‘decent, honest and truthful’ way to run a promotion and will do the right thing next time.

  3. Joan Colwell says:

    What a disgrace and from a “brand leader” – they really don’t deserve customer loyalty. I hope they have learned a valuable lesson from this – customers want to be treated fairly and don’t want to be mislead. I don’t buy frozen chips etc any more but when I did I usually bought McCains – never again!

  4. Tilly says:

    I can’t believe that such a low number of prizes were given away!

  5. Lyndsey Bruce says:

    It is very disappointing to see a well known brand like McCain run a misleading competition like this. It really makes you wary of future promotions. The every day person would never have realised how few prizes were likely to be given out. Very bad show from McCains ☹️

  6. Kellie McIntyre says:

    Poor poor show by mccains!

  7. Francesca Jones says:

    McCain WERE my go to brand of choice for frozen potato product but since this promotion I DON’T buy McCain anymore…I didn’t expect to win but you do expect a big company to promote their competitions fairly and I feel scammed!

  8. Kerry H says:

    Good on you for calling them out!

  9. Gabriela. says:

    It’s very disappointing and unexpected when this kind of competitions are from a well known and successful brand.

  10. Nikola says:

    It’s just awful, to be honest I will avoid this company in future!

  11. Claire Noke says:

    so did McCain reply at all? …. I still don’t understand why they only gave away such a measly percentage of prizes? Why were NONE of the cars given away? What was the excuse…. (sorry… reason) ? Thanks Claire. x

    • Di says:

      Claire, if you take a look at my post last year about the mathematics of this type of promotion at https://superlucky.me/misleading-instant-win-promotions/ that might help to explain it. Essentially, McCain would have produced a certain number of promotional packs (eg. my conservative guess is 100 million – the BBC asked but McCain refused to say how many) – in that case, the chance of your pack code winning one of the ten cars would have been a tiny 1 in 10 million. Not great!
      The 0.56% claim rate suggests that only about 1 in 178 people actually typed their pack code in on the website too – problems with greasy packets and unreadable codes probably contributed to this, but it still seems a VERY small fraction of purchasers bothering to enter!

  12. ailsa says:

    I will be steering away from this company in general in future. All those greasy packets I searched for codes in!

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