Hard Rock Cafe UK has been rapped on the knuckles by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA), as two prize promotions it conducted on Twitter came in for criticism.
The ASA received three complaints concerning two tweets, one of which related to a prize promotion at Hard Rock's London outpost, and one at its Manchester cafe.
The first post, from @HardRockLondon read: "A cheeky #WinWednesday for you - tell us your dream Burger topping to #WIN a meal for 2 @HardRockLondon #HappyHumpDay"
The second, from @HardRockCafeMRC read: "RT & follow @HardRockCafeMCR to win this T signed by @Slash & tix to see him @Phones4uArena #Manchester 28 Nov!"
The three complaints the ASA received criticised tweets and challenged whether:
1) Significant conditions of the promotions were omitted from the posts;
2) Terms and conditions of the prize promotions should have been provided; and
3) The prizes had been awarded in accordance with the laws of chance by an independent person or by a computer process which produced verifiably random results.
Hard Rock Cafe UK argued that it had operated the promotions under US or global guidelines for Twitter usage and best practices and said that terms were not compulsory in those markets.
The company also explained that it had not included terms and conditions because of the limited number of characters available - Twitter only allows 140 characters per post.
Hard Rock stated that it had officially halted Twitter prize promotions across all of its cafes until it had addressed the requirements of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code and acknowledged that that the closing date for its London promotion was not stated and that it has since drawn a winner at random.
Meanwhile, it provided a series of screen shots for its Manchester promotion that showed it had provided a closing date and a date on which a winner would be announced.
It also stated that all of its cafes uses www.randomizer.org to generate winners from the total number of entries it received for prize promotions, although it didn't possess documentary evidence to demonstrate it in this instance.
However, the ASA upheld all three complaints and ruled that the adverts must not appear again in their current form. It told Hard Rock Cafe to ensure that conditions were clearly communicated before or at the time of entry and that all other conditions be made available before or at the time of entry.
It also told the company to ensure that future prizes were awarded in accordance with the laws of chance and by an independent person or under the supervision of an independent person, or via selection by a computer process that produced verifiably random results.