The End of 'Buy One Get One Free'?

1st April, 2008

One of the UK's best used sales promotions - BOGOF - may have it's days numbered if the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) gets its way.

Never heard of BERR? The Department was created on 28 June 2007 and is headed by John Hutton. They employ over 2,500 staff and have an annual budget of over £3 billion. Half of this is spent on nuclear decommissioning; the rest on their central purpose; "to help ensure business success in an increasingly competitive world. It is the voice for business across Government."

However, Berr have set warning bells ringing across the marketing industry when they recently finalised proposals of how the European Unfair Commercial Practices Directive would be implemented into UK law.

All eyes are on a clause that states that marketers would be banned from "describing a product as 'gratis', 'free', 'without charge' or anything similar, if the consumer has to pay anything other than the cost of responding to, collecting from or delivery of the item.

A recent article in Sales Promotion magazine quotes Philip Circus, Director of Legal Services at the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP) as saying; "we believe that these words outlaw BOGOF offers and other free gifts with purchase when described as free."

In basic terms only items that require no more than the normal cost of postage or delivery could be described as 'free'.

The ISP along with the Advertising Association are appling pressure on ministers to gain clarification but we may have to wait until the regulations become law on 26th May 2008 before we know for sure.

We are going to have to get very creative with sales promotions if we can't use BOGOF but it does mean that annoying man in the double glazing TV ad will finally be off air.

Jason Edge

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