April Fool’s prank pushes Bier Company into the slops

bier clubOnline craft beer subscription service Bier Company’s April Fool’s prank has not only alienated hundreds of its customers, it has now sparked the ire of the ad watchdog, triggering an ear-bashing into the bargain.

It all started when members of the company’s ‘Bier Club’ received an email under the subject “URGENT: You’ve Won a Black Card!”, and which promised “free beer for life”; others received the same message via a text.

However, those who signed up for the subscription service using the code “SLOOFLIRPA” (which can be read backwards as “APRILFOOLS”) were informed that they would actually only receive one month for free – after which the subscription would cost £22.95 per month.

Some 280 recipients rifled off complainants to the Advertising Standards Authority challenging whether the ads were misleading.

In response to the ASA probe, Bier Company claimed that consumers who took out a subscription had been able to easily cancel it by emailing or phoning the company, and they could do so prior to the subscription renewing, therefore avoiding paying the subscription services cost if they wished.

The firm said that, because consumers would have been able to claim the free month’s subscription without paying anything for the product or the postage and packing, and since the Black Card was a real item which they awarded once a month to one consumer via prize draw, it believed the promotion had been compliant with the requirements of the CAP Code.

Bier Company also believed it had received approval from Trading Standards that it was fully compliant with all relevant guidance.

The ASA, however, was not convinced, citing the CAP Code which states that promoters must not falsely claim or imply that the consumer has already won, would win or would on doing a particular act win a prize, if the consumer incurred a cost to claim the prize, or the prize did not exist.

The ASA noted that the ads stated that the recipient was a winner, and text in each ad stated “free beer for life” and “free beers for life” respectively. It considered that consumers were likely to understand from the ads that they were the winners of a competition, and that their prize entitled them to a lifetime’s supply of free beer from the advertiser.

The watchdog concluded that both because gave the impression consumers had won a prize when no such prize existed, they were misleading and breached the Code, and warned Bier Company about its future activity.

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