Walkers Crisps has been crushed by the ad watchdog after scores of customers complained that many of the trips in its high profile Spell & Go holiday promotion were virtually impossible to win.
The promotion, fronted by Gary Lineker, offered participants the chance to win one of 20,000 holdiays; all they had to do was enter a 12-digit code found on the back of crisp packets on to the company’s website to be given a ‘random’ letter.
Customers then had to use the letters to spell out the names of one of 26 possible destinations for the chance to win one of the holidays on offer.
But 112 customers complained to the Advertising Standards Authority, claiming that it was virtually impossible to get the certain letters – C, D or K – which they needed to complete the names of the most attractive destinations.
They also reported problems relating to the on-pack promotional codes and the website’s acceptance of those codes.
The seven-day holidays on offer included 3,000 ‘long-haul’ trips to places such as Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Sri Lanka and Tokyo – all of which, surprise, surprise, contain the letter ‘K’.
It has been claimed that just 800 holidays – out of the 20,000 available – have been won and that if Walkers had awarded all 20,000 holidays, the PepsiCo brand would have faced a bill of £37.5m in total.
In response to the ASA investigation, the crisps giant claimed that by mid-June a total of 12.8 million codes had been entered by just over 655,000 people. But it did concede that of the 12.8 million letters given out, just 98 letter Ks were issued, 252 letter Ds and 278 letter Cs.
In total, 628 C, D and Ks were issued – just 0.0005% of the total number of letters. Walkers insisted all 26 destinations included at least one of the letters C, D or K and the company had ensured enough of these letters were in circulation to allow for 20,000 holidays to be won.
However, the ASA was not convinced, and slated the “random swap” function, which allowed participants to swap letters within a pool on the competition’s website, which stated “all letters are treated equally”.
The ASA said the omission of C, D and Ks was “misleading” and told Walkers that in similar future promotions, it must ensure “significant conditions for all aspects of the promotion were communicated to consumers”.
In a statement, Walkers said: “We appreciate that the online letter swapping mechanic could have been clearer and we will ensure all future promotions take this feedback on board.”
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