UK sales promotion gets a reprieve from EC axe

UK-style prize draws have been saved from the scrapheap after a drastic revision to a draft directive on harmonising sales promotion laws across Europe.

Under the previous draft, marketers wanting to run a prize draw would have had to donate an amount equal to the total prize fund to charity (MW April 29), which would almost certainly have made them too expensive to run.

The changes to the draft directive, which is due to be voted on by the European Commission’s Competitiveness Council tomorrow (Thursday), also mean a reprieve for half-price promotions, such as “Happy hours” and “Buy one, get one free” (BOGOF) offers, which had been under threat.

But health groups are sure to react angrily to the news that there will now be no chance of an EU-wide ban on sales promotions for cigarettes or alcohol for at least another four years.

These three issues, and a proposal to cap promotional prize values at ââ¬100,000 (£67,700), have all been dropped in an attempt to enable a pan-European regulatory compromise. The EC aims to look at the proposals again in four years’ time.

It is unclear whether this latest draft will be accepted by the Competitiveness Council. A rejection would effectively mean the end of any hopes of a single European market for sales promotion.

While that would leave UK marketers free to use sales promotion, it would also mean that other EU countries that ban UK-style promotional techniques would continue to be able to do so.

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