An evaluation of the self-regulation of promotional competitions in South Africa

27 July 2016

Promotional competitions are competitions in which prizes are awarded by lot or chance in order to promote goods or services. In order to protect participants and consumers against abuse, these competitions are usually regulated by gambling or consumer protection legislation. However, the relevant legislation is often complemented by self-regulation, which is the focus of this contribution. Self-regulation entails the regulation or governing of an industry by the role players in that industry. This article commences by explaining the relevant terminology and exploring self-regulation in general, including the various forms of self-regulation and the binding force thereof. The nature of self-regulation is discussed together with the advantages and challenges associated with this form of regulation. This is followed by some examples of self-regulation on a global level in order to provide a comparative perspective on the topic. The provisions of the International Chamber of Commerce's Consolidated Code of Advertising and Marketing Communications Practice are summarised and the European Advertising Standards Alliance's role in self-regulation is considered. Attention is also given to the relevant industry codes in the United Kingdom in view of the comprehensive way in which promotional competitions are covered by self-regulation in that country. The main part of the article centres on the self-regulatory position in South Africa. A brief overview of the role and function of the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASASA) is provided. The provisions of the ASASA's Code of Advertising Practice are then examined and some ASASA rulings are discussed in order to illustrate the relevant principles. Thereafter, the focus shifts to the Code of Conduct of the Wireless Application Service Providers' Association, which contains detailed provisions relating to promotional competitions. Some relevant rulings are also considered. In conclusion, comments are made regarding the current state of the self-regulation of promotional competitions in South Africa.