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Complaints about tweets used to sell house via spot-the-ball competition upheld by watchdog

Despite failing to sell enough tickets at £25 per entry, the way the competition was promoted via social media broke Advertising Standards Authority rules.

Nigel Lewis

spot-the-ball

A couple who tried to sell their multi-million pound riverside home in Berkshire via a much-publicised £25-a-go spot the ball competition have had a complaint against them upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

Helen and Gary Weller, who built their New England-style property overlooking the Thames river near Reading, had already tried to sell their five-bedroom new-build property via several estate agents including Knight Frank and Romans before opting to switch tactics.

In October 2017, after failing to find buyers at their original asking price of £3.595 million, they launched their ‘spot the ball competition’ with a £25 entry fee.

The breath-taking pictures of the luxury property (see above) garnered much media attention and the couple also promoted the competition aggressively through a dedicated Twitter account.

Spot-the-ball

In the end the couple failed to sell enough tickets but the competition’s marketing activities prompted a member of the public to complain to the ASA.

The complainant claimed that the tweets did not mention that a 25p entry transaction charge was payable by competition entrants, and also that if not enough tickets were sold a cash alternative would be up for grabs instead.

These two complaints were upheld by the ASA, although a third about the judging process was not.

“We noted that the competition had ended,” the ASA says. “We told Reve House Ltd to ensure that, to avoid causing unnecessary disappointment, future ads stated all significant conditions sufficiently prominently and that they awarded the prize described in the ad, or a reasonable equivalent.”

Reve House’s vendors soldier on. The property is now for sale at £2.995 million with independent estate agent Bridges in Reading.

October 24, 2018

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