New York AG Gives No Stars To Fake Online Reviews

On November 2, 2018, the New York Attorney General came crashing down on a number of moving services that paid for at least 60 fake positive online reviews posted under the heading “CHECK OUT OUR REVIEWS POSTED BY CUSTOMERS JUST LIKE YOU.”  As a result, the only checking being done will be from the businesses’ bank account when they shell out over $65,000 in penalties and costs.

Fake online reviews have always been the bane of legitimate shoppers.  What’s the first thing you do when you find a snow blower online?  You read the reviews.  How’s about a restaurant?  You read the reviews.  In fact, statistics show that a whopping 88% of shoppers incorporate online reviews into their purchase decisions, and being the lazy consumers that we are, the number one factor is the star rating.  While we think we can weed through the fake and the for real, the bottom line is who the heck knows if Caroline L. from New York, NY really liked her bicycle?  We don’t.  A Harvard Business School/BU report from a few years back states that 20% of all online reviews on Yelp! were fake.  Yikes! (more…)

What’s the Straight Dope on Marijuana Promotions?

Prop 215 was enacted in California twenty-two years today on November 5, 1996.  This law was the first of its kind in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana use.  Since then 30 states have approved medical marijuana use and 9 have legalized recreational marijuana.  Maybe a long timing coming (for those who like to toke) given that Herodotus first recorded the Scythians inhaling the smoke from smoldering cannabis seeds and flowers to get high in the Fourth Century B.C.E.

We now have over half the country dishing out dope and creating a gigantic ganga industry.  Legal marijuana sales in North America were almost $10 billion (with a B) in 2017 and are expected to grow to almost $25 billion (still with a B) by 2021.  But we still don’t have a real clear landscape on advertising and in particular sweepstakes and contests in the marijuana industry. (more…)

Dilly! Dilly! Is Giving Away Free Beer so Silly?

Every beer drinking football fan in Cleveland knows by now that there will be magic beer fridges stationed throughout Cleveland that will miraculously open to produce bottles of free Bud Light if the football gods see fit to allow the Browns to win a football game this year.

At first glance, I pictured the regulatory referees throwing yellow flags across the field decreeing a penalty for violating beer promotion laws. But as a curious promotions lawyer, I thought it was worth a little investigation into trying to find out how a stunt akin to the Fumblerooski can be successfully pulled off. (more…)

Mayor McCheese Catches the Hamburglar (A Look at the Instant Win Games Scams)

You’re offered a $1 million game piece for $40,000 dollars.  What do you do?  As you might expect, this may be an offer you can’t refuse.

A recent and very comprehensive article in the Daily Beast, provides an in-depth look at how the history of McDonald’s Monopoly Game has involved McStings, mobsters and molls.  I will not go as in-depth, since I am confined to the fate of the billable hour, but the article raises a number of interesting points concerning the efforts scammers will take to cash in on that golden ticket, including, like our protagonist here, selling it to a purported Colombo crime family member, who, according to the article, looked like Al Capone and was obsessed with The Godfather(more…)

Pandamonium Over a Promotion: What to do When Your Promotion is Too Popular

Over the years there have been a number of promotions that just exploded beyond a brand’s expectations.  In 2009, Oprah decided to treat the whole Internet to two pieces of KFC’s new Kentucky Grilled Chicken by promoting a coupon redeemable at participating restaurants.  Lines snaked out the doors and cars lines up at drive-thru windows.  Some customers waited two hours for their chicken and some were turned away with only coupons.

Not to be outdone, on July 12, Build-A-Bear ran a one-day sale where customers could get a stuffed bear for the price of their child’s age.  As POPPA BEAR said to MAMA BEAR, if we truly love our BABY BEAR that is a deal we just can’t BEAR to miss.  Build-A-Bear could not just grin and BEAR it when the lines got unBEARable.  So Build-A-Bear published a notice on social media stating that it had to limit the number of people for safety concerns. (more…)