Do promoters have to publish winners’ names?
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find out who won competitions and prize draws, with lots of promoters failing to make official announcements, leaving us wondering if there really was a prize to be won! With so many scams about, it’s no wonder people get suspicious when a company refuses to say who won their competition – but unfortunately, promoters are no longer required to share that information with us.
Prior to the introduction of GDPR in 2018, the CAP Code (‘rule book’ for UK adverts and promotions) required a promoter to give a winner’s full name and county on request. After the change in data protection laws, the Advertising Standards Authority spent several months consulting on the changes, and the updated CAP Code rule is:
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.
What does this actually mean?
- Promoters are expected to either publish winners’ names, or give them on request – but if a winner objects to their details being shared, then details of the winner shouldn’t be shared with anyone except the ASA.
- Terms and conditions for a prize promotion should state that the promoter will be sharing details of the winner (either by publishing it, or giving it on request).
- Winners should be asked whether they object to their details, or their winning entry, being shared by the promoter, and should also be able to decide how much information is shared.
- If the winner objects to their details being shared, the promoter would still have to give winner’s details and evidence that the prize has been awarded to the ASA if requested.
Promoters are expected to provide winners’ names for transparency and to provide public accountability – essentially, to prove their promotion was genuine, with a real winner.
To make sure they are compliant with both the CAP Code and GDPR, promoters should ensure their T&Cs include something along the lines of ‘the winner’s full name and winning entry will be published, unless the winner objects’ . When the winner has been informed, and accepted their prize, the promoter can ask whether they are happy for their details to be shared. Read more in my post How to contact winners.
Challenging where a winner hasn’t been announced
Unfortunately there are promoters out there who don’t award prizes – and with this change in the CAP Code rules, it’s fine for a promoter to refuse to share details of the winner, claiming that the winner did not give permission.
In a situation where you don’t believe a winner has been chosen or informed, you can submit a complaint to the ASA, who will contact the promoter and ask for evidence of the winner’s name, entry and also evidence that the prize has been awarded. The ASA will then inform you whether the prize was awarded – but without sharing details of the winner.
Tips for finding winners
- On social media, try a Twitter search using the competition hashtag and the word ‘Congratulations’ or ‘winner’ to see if the winner has been announced or tweeted.
- If you enter a promotion where PromoVeritas have selected the winners, you can find winners lists published at www.promowinners.com – simply search for the company or product.
- Reply to a competition tweet or message the promoter to ask if the winner has been informed.
- If you’ve entered a competition and don’t want to spoil your chance of winning by chasing the promoter, ask a friend to contact them and ask if the prize has been awarded.
- If you still have no luck, make a complaint to the ASA.
Be polite with your communication, and don’t chase the promoter for winners’ details until at least 28 days after the closing date (unless it was stated in T&Cs that the winner would be announced by a set date). In some cases, promoters may allow 28 days for their first winner to respond. If there’s no response, they will contact a second winner and give them 28 days to respond… and so on. In the case of multiple winners, a promoter usually waits to hear back from all of them before a winners list is published. Sometimes it can take a LONG time for promoters to get confirmation from all winners, so be patient!
Do you know of any promoters who have been particularly stubborn and need a nudge to announce winners?
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