PEPSICO has been warned about its advertising promotions after a repeat winner of an hourly £500 (€622) prize was told only one would be honoured.
The promotion on Pepsi packaging invited customers to text the last four digits of the barcode for the chance to win the money every hour, but one person complained that the code had been posted online for anyone to use and another objected that only one prize of the several he had won would be honoured.
The company said one entrant and his family had entered more than 11,000 times using a high number of slightly varying email addresses, which equated to more than 35 entries per draw, with some draws being entered more than 500 times within the hour.
PepsiCo said the significant terms and conditions of the promotion were on the product label and the associated web page, which customers had to agree to by ticking a box, and included a limit of one entry per mobile phone number or email address per hourly draw and a ban on bulk, consumer group, third party or agent entries.
It did not know the exact mechanism that had been used to make such a high number of entries, but a "robot" appeared to have been used, making them invalid.
But the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) concluded that PepsiCo had not provided evidence to demonstrate that the complainant's entries were made by means other than generating multiple email addresses.
The ASA ruled: "We noted the terms and conditions, which did not make clear that it was not acceptable to make multiple entries from a single IP address, stated that winners would be selected '...from all valid entries for each draw' and that the complainant and his family members each received confirmation of several wins following the draws.
"We therefore considered that to withdraw the prizes subsequently, and in some cases over a month after those entrants had been notified of the wins, caused unnecessary disappointment given that, we understood, they had used a different email address for each entry, as per the requirements of the terms and conditions.
"We considered significant conditions of the promotion were not made sufficiently clear and that, because unnecessary disappointment had been caused, the promotion had not been administered fairly."
It concluded: "We told PepsiCo to ensure promotions were administered fairly and that significant conditions of promotions were made clear in future."