Molly-Mae Hague faced a torrent of backlash this week from some of her social media followers after an Instagram giveaway she posted created controversy.
While a lucky winner took home £8,000 worth of Louis Vuitton, Apple and beauty products, many complained the competition was unfair after the ex-Love Islander entered just 25 of the two million names that took part into a random generator.
Many of the entrants took to social media to claim this was a ‘scam’ and ‘not executed well’ after the social media star revealed on her Instagram live story how the winner was chosen.
What kind of terms and conditions should have been in place and should influencers face more stringent checks, like companies do, when running a competition?
Molly-Mae’s giveaway was criticised after she put just 25 entrants into a random generator
To enter, those looking to win had to like her Instagram post and tag a friend, subscribe to her YouTube page and follow her and her tanning brand on Instagram.
For an extra entry, followers had to share her initial post to their Instagram story for a bonus entry.
Many influencers are now using giveaways like this to gain more followers with Molly-Mae gaining around half a million extra followers as a direct result of the competition.
However, these competitions are regulated by both laws and the Advertising Standards Authority.
Jeremy Stern, chief executive of PromoVeritas, promotional compliance experts, said: ‘The law provides a regulatory framework and deals with high level stuff such as misleading consumers, selling under a guise, making paid for advertising look like editorials and writing fake reviews.’
The Advertising Standards Agency, via the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising and Direct and Promotional Marketing (CAP Code), covers a lot more of the detail and the executional aspects of running a marketing campaign.
It says that prizes should be as stated and delivered within 30 days, unless otherwise stated, and there must be clear terms and conditions available at the time of entry.
It adds that prizes should be clearly described, all entry requirements must be clearly stated and, if it is a prize draw, the winners should be selected in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent entity or under supervision of an independent entity.
Stern said: ‘In the case of Molly Mae, she has failed on all the above aspects. When it says you get a year’s supply of her tan and a full BeautyWorks hair transformation, what is a year’s supply? She says you will get lots of Apple goodies – what is a lot?’
‘Unfair’: Social media backlash
A number of social media users took to the internet to complain about the giveaway with many deeming it unfair.
Some even went so far as to say it was like a ‘scam’ after just 25 names were entered into a random generator.
However, some defended Molly-Mae, saying that entrants should be happy for the winner.
This Twitter user branded the giveaway unfair – blaming the random generator
Another user claimed that picking just 25 people was unfair
One person said that the giveaway was a ‘scam’ after picking just a handful of names
He adds that the rules do not specify who can enter the competition and there should be age and geographic limits – if only because prize draws are regulated or illegal in some countries.
However, as it doesn’t say it is a UK only giveaway, when Molly-Mae says the competition closes at midnight, it leaves it open to interpretation as to what time zone that is.
Stern believes Molly-Mae should have had a simple summary explaining the rules, for example, ’18+, UK only prize draw. One entry per person. Closes 11.59pm 20/9/20.’
Additionally, there should be a link to read the full terms as saying ‘Terms Apply is essentially meaningless’.
Molly-Mae said she discussed with her management the best way to select the winner as there was no software or app that would allow her to put in two million Instagram comments without logging in with her password which she ‘would never ever do’.
Fame: Molly-Mae gained millions of followers after appearing on Love Island last summer
Stern added that it is not always easy to extract data from Instagram, unless you have certain types of accounts.
In this case, you may have a limit, for example, getting information from only 1,000 accounts, which is why Molly-Mae struggled to find a way to choose from two million names without using her Instagram password.
‘Even if you get all the data, the draw itself should not be conducted by Molly-Mae herself, without proper independent supervision. It is a simple practice designed to avoid room for abuse or fraud or cheating.
‘Plus she has a closing time of midnight. We always try to avoid this. When is midnight Monday? Is it the time between Sunday and Monday or between Monday and Tuesday? Saying Monday at 11.59pm is so much clearer.’
It does not appear that an independent assessment was made.
However, Molly-Mae did avoid a common problem with influencers in which they fail to declare commercial relationships with brands.
Many influencers get freebies or are paid to promote products and by law they must say that it is advertising or a paid relationship – even for 12 months after any formal period ends.
As Molly-Mae bought all of the products with her own money, and declared this, she did not have to worry about breaking any advertisement rules.
Molly-Mae had to post this to her Instagram stories, defending the winner of the giveaway
This is an area that the Competition and Markets Authority are increasingly cracking down on as it is a breach of law.
This is Money contacted Molly-Mae’s management regarding the giveaway but it said it had no comment.
Prize draws, where the winner is chosen at random, rather than a competition where prizes are allocated on the basis of skill, are likely to fall under the ASA’s remit as a promotion.
A spokesperson for the ASA said: ‘We are unable to comment on whether an ad/post would be likely to breach the rules without it first being assessed by our Complaints team.
‘Our role is to ensure that all ads are responsible, which is why we encourage anyone who thinks that a post may have breached the rules to submit a complaint to us.’
Prize draw winners must be chosen at random, according to the ASA. This can be done by using a computer process that produces verifiably random results.
If such a computer process isn’t used, then the draw should be done, or supervised, by someone independent.
Significant terms and conditions about the prize draw should also be stated in the initial marketing material.
Other conditions for promotions involving prizes should be available before or at the time of entry but do not need to be given as much prominence.
Prize draws do not have a ‘gaming’ element to them, unlike many TV competitions, as there is no skill involved. If skill were needed to win, it would likely be classed as a competition.
While the ASA will take action against ads which breach our rules, it said it would not clamp down on posts for competitions which are advertised legally and responsibly.