Sony and Game rapped by ASA for trying to run a fair PS4 promotion
The ASA has a tough job, investigating hundreds of complaints into adverts every year even if only one person has complained about an advert that no-one else saw. However, it seems it's an even harder job these days to run a 'fair' promotion, even if the people making it unfair are the public themselves...
An ASA adjudication, published today, upheld a complaint against a promotion, jointly administered by Sony and Game stores, offered the first 100 entrants the opportunity to purchase a limited edition Playstation 4 games console (PS4), as well as giving five random entrants the opportunity to win the same console.
The promotion was a competition- a daily clue was published which described a specific character from PlayStation history. The clue also included a link to a 'character image' page, which contained over 300 different characters, and only selecting the correct character would give a link to a Game page with a submission form to enter the competition. Sony said the link to the Game page was updated approximately one minute before a clue was released to allow them to check that the link worked before the clue was released.
The problem was that people, being people, didn’t play fair. To start with, the link Sony posted was static, which meant that it could be copied and pasted on to a gaming forum site, for example, for anyone to click, not just those who had been bothered to work out the clue. Sony said their system functionality was not in place to allow for unique URLs, and they had “not foreseen” the issue of the submission form URL being shared. Sneaky sorts also devised clever little scripts that allowed them to access the Game page even before the Sony clue was published, effectively letting them jump straight to the front of the queue. Sony actually made 112 consoles available per day to try and compensate for this fact.
In addition, while Game laboriously checked names addresses and IP details for daily winners, they didn’t manage to check across the whole period of the promotion, meaning five people were able to purchase more than one discounted PS4, albeit on different days, which was in breach of the competitions own terms and conditions.
The ASA accepted that Sony and Game had tried to run the competition fairly, and noted they had time-stamping entries and only disqualified multiple or early entries, or those from outside the UK. However, the ASA found that, because of the actions of the naughty public, the promotion was not, in fact, run fairly and breached the CAP code on administration of promotions, as those who had entered fairly did not have an equal chance of actually winning.