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Harrods promoted an online competition where participants were asked to “put the Harrods Green Man on the map” by taking a photograph of their own pocket sized Green Man whilst on their travels and posting it to Instagram.

The webpage linked to a page containing general terms and conditions and those specific to the Green Man competition. The general terms applied to all competitions unless stated otherwise and provided each participant could only submit one entry.

There was nothing in the Green Man terms relating to entries per participant.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints that the promotion had not been administered fairly as the winners had submitted multiple entries. Additionally the winning photographs featured the Green Man against a non-locational background and had been digitally manipulated.

After investigating internally, Harrods concluded that the terms and conditions were confusing to consumers. As a result they announced a second round of winners, this time disallowing multiple entries.

Earlier this month, the ASA upheld Harrods’ conclusion stating that consumers reading the terms would understand that the single entry restriction applied as the Green Man terms did not disapply this nor give any alternate condition for the numbers of entries permitted. It also ruled that it was unclear from the information provided whether entries such as those featuring the figure against a non-locational background or using digital manipulation were eligible, as clarity over the definition of the photograph’s “setting” was not given. Given that this was a competition requiring the submission of a photograph this was relevant information and could have been anticipated. The ASA concluded that for these reasons the promotion had not been administered fairly and had breached elements of the UK code of non-broadcast advertising, sales promotion and direct marketing (the CAP code).

The adjudication highlights the importance of clear and specific competition terms and conditions when administrating similar promotions, whether these are promoted via social media or otherwise.

If you have any concerns over your terms and conditions please contact me.