Pepsi criticised by ASA over cash prize promotion

First published in November 2012


NEWS-BITE | Marketing Comms | Promotions: Pepsi has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority over a cash-prize promotion in which one family won multiple times by entering from many different email addresses, but the drinks brand only paid out on the first win for each family member.

In a Pepsi Max promotion fronted by former Chelsea footballer Didier Drogba, Pepsi encouraged customers to enter their email addresses into a special website, with the promise that every hour for a six week period the owner of one submitted address would win £500.

The unnamed family who made the complaint to the ASA entered the promotion 11,000 times over six weeks, on some occasions submitting more than 500 email addresses in an hour. Presumably they owned a domain name on which they could, in theory, have infinite different email addresses, meaning they could enter using different details each time.

The family won on multiple occasions, and received confirmation of that fact, but once the number of entries and subsequent wins was calculated by Pepsi, not all the prize money was handed over.

The promotion did have small print that banned individuals or agencies making use of special software to submit multiple entries and, according to The Guardian, the drinks firm said they were convinced the family in question had made use of such technology given the high quantity of entries in some hours.

But the ASA said that couldn’t be proven and while the complaining family’s actions may not have been within the spirit of the promotion, they were not in breach of any explicit terms and conditions either, and therefore their prize money should not have been withheld, especially after they had been told they had won.

A spokesman for Pepsi said: “We are disappointed with the ASA’s ruling as we feel the terms and conditions of the competition made clear the restriction on the number of entries. We strongly believe the Pepsi Max promotion was administered fairly and honourably, but will review our conditions going forward”.