Napolina advertise £125,000 of prizes – but only give away £500

I feel let down when brands show a lack of respect for their customers, and Napolina’s recent ‘instant lose’ promotion was particularly disappointing. Launched on 18th January in Tesco stores, it advertised 250 prizes of £500 Tesco vouchers and consumers needed to buy a Napolina product to take part.

The promotion ended yesterday (7th February) and I asked Napolina for a winners list today. Their response was that there was just 1 prize winner. So what happened to the other 249 prizes?

Take a closer look at the display in store. In small print the text says ‘250 x £500 Tesco gift cards available to be won instantly online’. The display featured a QR code which directed to the Napolina website at where it also clearly advertised ‘£500 in Tesco vouchers – 250 to be won’.

Clicking on ENTER NOW from the main website, entrants were taken to with an entry form where they could input their product barcode and discover if they were an instant winner (or loser). Scrolling down the page, entrants could find this important information:

Prizes are randomly allocated via mathematic calculation algorithm. No guarantees all prizes will be won. Total number of packs in the promotional period 1,605,000.

This is essential information that should be on the in-store display, but it’s confusing for regular consumers. The figure of 1,605,000 is an estimate of how many Napolina products would be sold in Tesco between 18th January and 7th February – and all 250 prizes would only be won if there was an entry for every one of those products (so, 1,605,000 competition entries). But nowhere on the in-store advertising or the main competition website landing page did Napolina make it clear that the 250 prizes were not guaranteed to be won. Knowing the size of the ‘pack universe’ and the number of prizes, each entry had just a 1-in-6420 chance of being successful. But, having seen 250 prizes advertised, most people would assume their chance of a win was much higher than this – it’s very misleading.

In addition, the main advertising in store clearly said you could buy ANY Napolina product to take part, but a lot of barcodes were rejected at the entry form stage. It’s only in the T&Cs that you find this helpful information:

To enter online instant win, entrants must purchase a pack of Napolina Tomatoes 4 pack, Oils 500ml, Pasta 500g, Pulses 400g, Puree 142g, Passata 550g, Tomato singles, Passata 690g, Chopped Tomatoes & garlic, Oils 1000ml, Pasta 1Kg or Pizza bases from selected participating Tesco stores

So a lot of entrants wasted their money buying a product which wasn’t even valid!

Napolina even included a clause in T&Cs that winners would have to post off a till receipt and product label in order to claim their prize (I’ve not seen such a request for YEARS – a photo is usually acceptable). It’s almost as if Napolina didn’t want to award any prizes at all, by making it so difficult for people to claim a win.

And how many prizes did they award in the end? Just one £500 prize, to a lucky winner in West Yorkshire. That’s 0.4% of advertised prizes. Algorithmic promotions like this are rare, but generally we would expect around 3-5% of prizes to be awarded. Less than 1% of prizes awarded is really, really bad.

During a cost of living crisis, this was a poorly executed and cynical promotion designed to take advantage of consumers. Personally, I think Napolina should be offering a refund or voucher to every person that took part. Consumers were drawn in by misleading advertising, without realising how poor the odds of winning were and that not all advertised prizes would be won. Information on the instant win format, the qualifying products and the chance of winning is essential to include on the in-store advertising to ensure consumers can make an informed decision on whether to participate or not.

If Napolina only wanted to give away £500 of gift cards, why not just advertise the promotion as a prize draw with one guaranteed £500 prize? Plenty of consumers would still have taken part! The ASA’s central principle for all marketing communications is that they should be legal, decent, honest and truthful – and brands that respect this tend to have loyal customers.

But this promotion was not honest or truthful, so was not compliant with the CAP Code – and it’s likely there will be a future ruling against Napolina on the ASA website. I hope that Napolina and the agency involved have learnt a lesson here, and will be more honest with their next prize promotion. They have certainly lost a lot of customers amongst SuperLucky followers, and are already a serious contender for the worst competition of 2023!

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13 Responses

  1. Mia says:

    Shame on them! Awful way to trick customers during a crisis.

  2. Emma Fox says:

    If someone had bought the maximum entries of the most expensive item they’d have spent around £160 – that’s not very responsible marketing at all!!!
    (N.B This is based on the oil costing £8 and a max of 20 entries)

  3. Tracey G says:

    I bought several Napolina products in this promotion in order to enter this competition, paying much more than I normally would for tinned tomatoes & passata.
    I feel we have all been misled and merely boosted profits for Napolina. In the spirit of fairness couldn’t they at least donate some of the unclaimed prize pot to charity. Will never buy this brand again.

  4. Jon Price says:

    Shocking, won’t buy Napolina again.

    Also shocking is the LG win Wembley debenture prizes with ‘lots’ of instant win prizes, requiring a very expensive qualifier e.g. an OLED TV ! The instant win part of mechanic was impossible to win. I have taken this up with LG but their customer service is appalling.

  5. susan middleton says:

    I will certainly not buy Napolina products again. I also purchased in good faith & entered the competition

  6. Sarah R says:

    I was entering overnight for this in hopes of winning..very disappointing

  7. Debbie says:

    I bought product for this promotion & it was misleading on the in store point of sale info. This is appalling, I might just even stop buying Napolina now. It leaves a bad taste!

  8. Lu says:

    How annoying! I made a significant journey to a Tesco store as there are no local ones. I hadn’t tried Napolina products but thought this was a good incentive. I did a week’s shopping at the same time but I would not normally have given my hard earned cash to Tesco.
    So, Tesco and Napolina both gained from this promotion.
    This has definitely soured my feelings towards both companies.

  9. Gaynor Ray says:

    I bought 4 of their products for this promotion but it will be the last time I buy their products, I feel cheated.

  10. ElsaWhitneyy says:

    I buy Napolina all the time but I bought extra for this. I buy at least 20plus of their products a month. This has seriously put me of as a customer, very misleading.

  11. Sally says:

    I think we need national publicity for this!

    Anyone else apart from Di with contacts in the media?

  12. Margaret gee says:

    well done for holding them to account !

    • KelleyP says:

      Thank you for highlighting this issue Di, it seems unbelievable that there was only one prize. Mind you, I hope the lucky winner and they are for overcoming the odds has bought a lottery ticket. Well done them but shame on Napolina. I haven’t used the product yet, I wonder if I can get a refund for it in Tescos?

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