Coca-Cola warned not to repeat yo-yo promo in Finland

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HELSINKI -- Marketers in Finland must allow equal access to promotional competitions to purchasers and non-purchasers of their goods, Finland's Marketing Court has ruled.

The ruling upholds a complaint from Finland's Competition Ombudsman about a quiz promotion called Coca-Cola Yo-yo Lottery run by Coca-Cola Finland last fall. Consumers who bought Coke, Fanta and Sprite were offered a chance to win a "free" yo-yo.

Labels on the brands' bottles and cans advised consumers to telephone a hotline number to see if the number on the bottle or can they had purchased entitled them to a prize.

The court ruled that the public must have equal access to product competitions whether they purchase the relevant product or not. Offers should be open to all, without restriction, even those who do not purchase the product.

Court officials also determined that since the prize was a Coca-Cola yo-yo, the campaign targeted children. The court ruled that it was improper of Coca-Cola to expect children to waste time and incur costs by dialing a special number. The court described the whole exercise as being "in very poor taste".

The court warned Coca-Cola that it would fine it $47,000 if it repeated the promotion.

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