Why Baileys only gave away 157 of their 3,000 prize hampers

Do you remember the Baileys promotion advertised on neck collars last year to win one of 3,000 hampers?

The neck collars promised ‘1000s of treat hampers to be won…’ and in the small print it stated ‘1 of 3,000 Baileys hampers available to be won via an instant win algorithm’. But having received a copy of the winners list in the post, it only contains 157 names – a mere 5.2% of the prizes advertised were claimed and awarded. But why is this the case?

What is an instant win algorithm?

This Baileys promotion was an ‘algorithmic’ instant win promotion. This means that every advertised prize would ONLY be awarded if the unique code from every single promotional neck collar was entered on the Baileys competition website. Of course, this will never happen – and statistics show that generally less than 5% of on-pack promotional codes will be entered, so that’s the percentage of advertised prizes we can expect to be awarded.

The ASA website advise promoters not to run misleading promotions like this, as exaggerating the chance of winning is a breach of the CAP Code (the UK rule book for advertising & sales promotions):

Code rule 8.20 states that ads for prize promotions must not mislead by exaggerating consumers chances of winning prizes…. If an ad states that thousands of prizes are available to be won, but only a small amount will actually get awarded, this may mislead consumers by creating an exaggerated impression of their chances of winning. In this kind of promotion, the ad must include information to clarify to the consumer how likely they are to win, for example by giving an explanation of the winner selection mechanism and the number of prizes which will be awarded.

ASA Advice Online

Unfortunately we do regularly see brands running algorithmic promotions like this, but there’s a really simple way they can make the consumer’s chance of winning much clearer. They should state in the terms and conditions what the size of the ‘pack universe’ is – how many promotional packs, neck collars or stickers have been produced. This allows us to work out our chance of winning!

Current algorithmic instant wins

There are two current algorithmic instant win examples that do tell us the ‘pack universe’ size in the T&Cs. Divide this by the number of advertised prizes to get your chance of winning:

  • Quaker ‘Have 2021 for Breakfast’ the pack universe is 10,896,000, and number of prizes is 6601, giving you a 1-in-1650 chance of winning with each entry you make
  • Forthglade Win a VW Campervan – the pack universe is 3,582,234, and number of prizes is 1501, giving you a 1-in-2387 chance of winning with every entry you make.

These two promotions are different to Baileys because they both have only one top prize in each – a £5,000 experience, and a VW Campervan. The chance of winning that top prize is almost 11 million to one for Quaker, and 3.6 million to one for Forthglade! Can you understand why promoters don’t want to tell us the size of the pack universe now? Most people wouldn’t buy the product especially to enter the promotion with those odds. And that’s why I use a Thumbs Down emoji to mark algorithmic instant wins in my Compers Shopping List – I’m certainly not a fan!

There are different ways of adding elements to an algorithmic promotion to increase the number of prizes awarded – it can be combined with guaranteed winning moments (Le Rustique did this last year, and Oaty Mix-Ups is a current example). And although Yeo Valley ran an algorithmic promotion to win a Tesla last year, they promised that if the car wasn’t won instantly, there would be a prize draw from all losing entries to ensure it was awarded. But even with these format tweaks, using an algorithmic instant win is still not a fair or popular way to decide winners.

Honesty is the best policy

For an algorithmic instant win, a promoter decides how many prizes they want to award, then multiply that by around twenty so they can put a huge exaggerated number (or value) of prizes in their advertising, knowing that they probably won’t have to award more than 5% of them. And if there’s an expensive top prize, the chance of it being won is miniscule – they will pay out for insurance just in case this happens of course! It’s dishonest, and frustrating that they can get away with it. Most consumers simply don’t understand the concept of prizes only being available to be won and would assume all advertised prizes will be given away. And when the qualifying product is a bottle of Baileys, that’s an expensive purchase for the consumer – so clear information about how winners are chosen should be given up front.

But for some promotions with a large number of the same prize being given away, there’s no point in using an algorithm because it probably makes no difference at all to the success of the promotion. For example, if the Baileys neck collar had read ‘Win one of 150 treat hampers’ with 150 prizes guaranteed to be given away across weekly prize draws or after winning moments, that’s still a fantastic prize fund that would be attractive to shoppers.


If, like me, you feel that algorithmic instant wins are misleading consumers then please do report them to the ASA. Promoters need to be aware how important it is to include all significant information on pack, so consumers can make an informed decision on whether to buy the product or not!

For further information see the ASA article on instant wins – and my guidance on How to complain to the ASA about a promotion.

Find out more about instant wins, winning moments and prize draws in my post A guide to purchase necessary promotions.

8 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Monopoly McDonalds do the same.

    They issue a prize on the exact millisecond, if nobody enters in that millisecond, then the prize is not awarded.

    One insider claimed that 2 out of 3 prizes were never actually awarded.

  2. JuneCarey says:

    I always ask for the winner when those silly like and share on FB. Do people not realise all they want is your FB account to bombard with adverts.

  3. Daphne says:

    I don’t like this kind of competition , but to be fair no local shops near me that sold Bailey’s still had the winning collars on, all had security tags if anything.

  4. Rebecca MacBain says:

    Ive also just submitted my first ever complaint to ASA about it!

  5. Rebecca MacBain says:

    I made a comment too

  6. Duncan says:

    I’m guessing this is the same as the Wrigley’s/Spotify promo last year. What a joke! Would love to know if anyone actually one

  7. Elaine Hollis says:

    Show your disappointment by posting on their page. I just did. http://www.facebook.com/BaileysGB

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.