I'm Not With The Band: ASA Reminds Festival Not To Offer Prizes It Cannot Guarantee

Osborne Clarke


Osborne Clarke
A Witcombe Festival social media account made a post on 27 April 2023 which included text saying "SIGN UP FOR PRESALE + WIN A VIP BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE, TICKETS & MORE!".
UK Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
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Who:  The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Witcombe Festival

Where:  United Kingdom

When:  7 February 2024

Law stated as at:  11 March 2024

What happened:

Witcombe Festival social media account made a post on 27 April 2023 which included text saying "SIGN UP FOR PRESALE + WIN A VIP BACKSTAGE EXPERIENCE, TICKETS & MORE!". The caption also stated "Sign up for exclusive ticket access and win HUGE money-can't-buy prizes including a VIP backstage experience < raising hands emoji > Hurry – ticket and competition sign-up closes on 2nd May. Good Luck < fingers crossed emoji > Sign up via the link in our bio".

The ASA received a complaint after an individual was notified they had won the prize draw, but did not receive the prize or a reasonable equivalent.

The UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing (CAP Code) states that promoters must award the prizes as described in their marketing communications, or reasonable equivalents.

The ASA considered that the ad wording encouraged consumers to sign up for ticket pre-sale on the basis that they might win prizes, and that consumers would understand that they could go backstage at the festival if they won.

The complainant received an email confirming they had won two VIP Weekend Camping Tickets, an A-list backstage experience and a ride in the artist's private buggy to the festival. While they were able to claim the camping tickets, they were not given information about how to claim the rest of the prize, despite following the required steps. When the complainant then tried to claim the rest of the prize while at the festival, the staff informed them that they were temporary staff and were not able to help, nor did they know who they should speak to. The complainant emailed the organisers at their suggestion, but they did not receive a response.

Witcombe Festival said there was no specific artist that the winner would meet, and on the day the artist's touring management did not want any public or competition winners backstage. The festival also stated that they verbally offered for the complainant to go backstage to meet another artist or tickets for next year's festival, but the complainant refused. As above, the event staff did not know who the complainant needed to speak to about the prize. Regardless of this, the ASA was not provided with satisfactory evidence that the complainant had been offered an alternative prize, and a reasonable equivalent had therefore not been awarded.

The ASA therefore considered that because the complainant was not able to claim the backstage experience or ride in the artist's private buggy, the prize had not been awarded in full. It further considered that the festival should not have offered the VIP backstage experience if they could not guarantee they could fulfil the prize at the time of the event because artists could prevent members of the public going backstage.

It was consequently concluded by the ASA that, as part of the prize had not been awarded, and evidence had not been seen that Witcombe Festival offered a reasonable equivalent, the promotion breached the CAP Code.

Why this matters:

By drawing individuals in with an implied opportunity to go backstage to see their favourite artist in conjunction with allowing an artist's team to prevent the public going backstage, Witcombe Festival offered a prize they could not guarantee. The ruling therefore reminds prizegivers to ensure they can award prizes as advertised in marketing communications, or ensure they can deliver an actually reasonable equivalent instead.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

I'm Not With The Band: ASA Reminds Festival Not To Offer Prizes It Cannot Guarantee

UK Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment


Osborne Clarke
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