The advertisement which appeared on the advertisers’ bridal Facebook page featured a picture of formal and bridal dresses and referred to the following:
“Only a few hours to go till we announce 5 winners.
Cari's Closet is delighted to announce we are opening our 4th store in Belfast in the coming weeks!!!. We can’t wait to meet all you lovely ladies.
To celebrate we are giving away not 1 BUT 5 dresses to 5 lucky ladies!!!. To be in with a chance of winning SHARE/REPOST our news and TAG your friends Winners announced tomorrow 17th August at 6pm”.
The complainant said that in keeping with the mechanism of participating in the competition, her family continuously shared and commented on the first initial Facebook post on 6th August 2015; this post had featured a picture of a wedding dress. The complainant said that when they commented on the post in question, the picture of the wedding dress changed to that of a formal dress. At that point in time the post had referenced the fact that the winners would be announced on 15th August. On 16th August when the winners to the competition had not been announced, the complainant’s sister sent a private message to the advertisers asking when the results would be published. On 17th August she was informed that she was a winner and to contact the company. On contacting the company to claim her prize, however, she was informed that her prize was a ‘rental dress’.
The complainant said her sister was astonished and disappointed to learn that her prize was a rental dress as the word ‘rental’ had never appeared in the marketing communication. She said the advertisers had indicated that they were ‘giving away’ five dresses not that they would be renting them out for free.
The advertisers said that their post had stated that Cari's Closet Dress Hire & Sales was giving away 5 free dresses from their store. They said their business was predominantly dress hire and they also sold sales stock like shoes, accessories, handbags, jewellery, dresses, jeans, hats etc. They said they also had a wedding dress shop named Cari's Closet Bridal which was a separate store and had a separate Facebook page from Cari's Closet Dress Hire and Sales.
The advertisers said they often organised give aways on social media to their followers as a token of appreciation, in return they asked them to share repost or let their friends know of their giveaways, in return they gained more fans followers and brand awareness.
In relation to the post in question the advertisers said that while they were giving away 5 dresses, there was never any mention or post stating they were giving away wedding dresses. They said what had happened in this case was that they had shared their Facebook post from Cari's Closet Dress Hire & Sales with Cari's Closet Bridal Facebook page. They reiterated that they had never said Cari's Closet bridal were giving away 5 wedding dresses. Fans from their Bridal page would have seen that the post from Cari's Closet Dress Hire & Sales had been shared to the bridal page and when they clicked into the post it brought them back to the dress hire and sales Facebook page.
Finally the advertisers said they had chosen the winners at random from those who had commented on the post. The winners were then asked to contact Cari's Closet Dress Hire to claim their prize.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. The Committee noted the wording on the advertisers’ Facebook post alongside a picture of bridal and formal dresses and the fact that they had referenced the fact that they were ‘giving away’ the dresses as a prize on a Bridal Shop Facebook Page. The Committee considered that most consumers would interpret this as meaning they would acquire a wedding dress as their prize to keep. The Committee considered that if the advertisers were offering the winners the opportunity to rent one of their formal dresses, at no cost, rather than providing them with a wedding dress to keep that this was a very different scenario that should have been stated in their marketing communication. In the circumstances they considered the advertisement to be in breach of Sections 2.22 and 2.24 of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in the same format again.