Helen Hart, Regulatory Affairs Manager, IPM
The CAP Code rule 8.26 includes
requirements for independent judges and observers in the preparation and management of promotional campaigns. These
requirements exist to ensure that prize promotions are administered properly
and more to the point, are seen to be administered properly. This helps to give
participants confidence in the integrity of a promotion, and also helps to
protect the promoter. But what is meant
by ‘independence’? Who counts as an independent judge or
When is an independent
observer necessary for a prize draw?
If you are running a prize draw,
you need to select winners according to the laws of chance and this must be
independently verifiable. It is not sufficient to simply say that a random
process was used - you need evidence. This might, for example, include
a spreadsheet which clearly uses a random function formula.
The ASA has upheld complaints that a winner was not genuine
or that the winners were too closely connected with the promoter.
Who counts as ‘independent’ for a prize draw?
According to CAP guidance, marketers can use the proverbial ‘man in the street.’ In a 2006 adjudication, the ASA implicitly accepted that an observer from Electoral Reform Services was suitably independent.
When is an independent
judge necessary for a competition?
If the selection of a winning entry is open to subjective
interpretation, there should be at least one judge (either a sole judge or one judge on a panel) who is
independent. ‘Independent’ in this context means demonstrably independent, especially from the competition’s
promoters and intermediaries (e.g. agencies) and from the pool of entrants from
which the eventual winner is chosen. You can pay a judge,
which in itself does not compromise their independence.
Examples of independent people considered by the ASA include
the editor of a national newspaper and the chair of an unrelated trade body. The
promoter and sponsor are not independent and CAP states
that it does not consider agencies who have worked on a campaign or
lawyers who have advised on it to be independent.
So who would be
As well as the people mentioned above, you could ask local
councillors, trading standards officers, auditors, unrelated solicitors or a
representative of the promoter’s trade association to assist.
Be careful with internal people. Agencies are branching out
into other areas outside their traditional scope and it might not necessarily
be appropriate to carry out different functions
on the same promotion if you don’t want to
compromise independence. As an example, according to the CAP guidance, the
Promotional Marketing and Direct Response Panel has advised that there is unlikely
to be enough separation between editorial and promotional departments of
publications, for editorial staff to act as
independent judges or observers.