Posts Tagged: Rules

Vacation Sweepstakes Edition (The More You Give, The Less You May Get)

It’s summer vacation time and what better way to spend it then basking in the sun after winning that all-expense-paid prize trip.  Or is it?

Sponsors want to create buzz for their sweepstakes.  And vacation prizes over the summer months may do just that.  In my unofficial count, there are about 150 vacation sweepstakes currently running by major brands for trips to Hawaii, Lake Tahoe, Disney World, Miami, Las Vegas, NYC and even Cincinnati.  But Caveat Sponsus, awarding a dream vacation could be a nightmare.

Issues and solutions when offering vacation prizes: (more…)

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How About Some Updates?

You may or may not have heard of some recent developments in the promotion world.  If you haven’t, great, let me be the first to tell you.  If you have, my update is better.

Endorsements/Influencers

Back in the 1940s, a sociologist named Paul Lazerfield introduced the psychology behind the efficacy of influencers with his theory called “two-step flow of communication,” finding that ideas flow from mass media to “opinion leaders” who distill and pass along information to “opinion followers” with more limited knowledge. Today, this two-step “flow” of communication has become a deluge.  As a result, the FTC and social media sites are taking pains to corral it.

Instagram posted in June a “Why Transparency Matters” blog introducing its upcoming “Paid partnership with” tag for posts and stories.  Is it required?  We don’t know.  Instagram promises to release an official policy on enforcement “in the upcoming months.” (more…)

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Some Common Sweepstakes and Contests Questions Answered

Our teachers have told us that there’s no such thing as a bad question.  In that light, I’ve come up with 11 common (simple) questions about running a sweepstakes or contest.  And to prove that there are no bad questions, I’ve also gone ahead and answered them.  Enjoy!

Social Media

Q:        Can we require an entrant to share the sweepstakes on a friend’s timeline to get additional entries?

A:        No.  Stay away from personal timelines on Facebook.

Practice tip: You can ask an entrant to share the sweepstakes link with a friend to allow the friend to enter separately.

Q:        Can we ask an entrant to tweet, retweet, follow a Twitter user, or post an update? (more…)

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With A Nod to May Day, Let’s Look at Beauty “Contests”

Beauty pageants have been around since the Middle Ages when during the English May Day celebrations a May Queen was crowned.  But unlike our current pageant winners who go on to work toward advanced degrees and to advanced popular causes, folklore has it that our early May Queens’ reign was more short-lived, literally; since they were put to death once the May Day festivities were over.

Beauty pageants are contests and are subject to contest laws.  What do you need to have a legitimate skill contest?  1.  An actual skill that can be assessed.  2.  Winners selected based upon exhibiting that skill.  3.  Qualified judges who have the expertise to judge that skill.

Is “beauty” a skill?  We may remember our mom saying she had to “put on her face” before going out, but unless you want to judge on how adept or fast someone is at putting on makeup, etc., it’s tough to say that “beauty” is, in itself, a true skill. (more…)

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Hey That’s Me Drinking That Beer! UGC Rights at Issue in Beer/Photo Lawsuit

Kayla Kraft (no known relation to the cheese people) found herself on a Natural Light coaster with a fake handlebar mustache drinking a beer under the heading “Every Natty Has a Story.”  She apparently didn’t like that story and just sued Anheuser-Busch, the makers of Natural Light beer, for copyright infringement and invasion of privacy.

According to the complaint, in 2013 Kraft’s friend Kathyrn Belasco snapped the mustachioed photo of her using Kraft’s phone.  Kraft then posted the photo on Facebook.  Three years later, Belasco assigned all of her rights to the photo to Kraft.

News reports say that the photo was submitted to Natural Light’s Facebook page as part of the “Natty Rewards” contest run in 2014 by Anheuser-Busch where contestants were asked to submit a photo of themselves “acting natural.”  (Unknown whether drinking beer with a fake mustache was Ms. Kraft’s natural state.)  Rules are here. The Rules provide that photos submitted are the original work of the entrant and do not infringe upon anyone’s copyright or publicity rights.  The Rules also grant Anheuser-Busch a license to use the photo in any and all media for any purpose.  Basically, the Rules say everything that’s typical for a UGC contest.

The Complaint doesn’t mention the contest, but does allege that the photo has been used as part of Natural Light’s “Every Natty Has a Story” campaign without Kraft’s or Belasco’s consent.  Anheuser-Busch has not yet answered the Complaint.

Assuming the photo was submitted as part of the contest, this lawsuit raises a number of interesting issues.

(more…)

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One Whale of a Story $2MM Fishing Contest Prize in Dispute After Failed Polygraph Test

Fishermen(persons?) say that the strongest currents yield the biggest catch.  Or at least I think they say that; I really don’t fish.  But there’s a storm a brewing in Maryland federal court over a disputed $2.8 million first prize in the “world’s largest billfish tournament,” known as the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland. White Marlin Open, Inc. v. Heasley, No. 1:16-cv-03015 (D. Md.)

Entering anglers had to pay a $1,000 fee to register their boat and winners received a prize based upon the type/size of fish caught and the total entry fees.   Phillip G. Heasley allegedly caught the only qualifying white marlin which would purportedly qualify him for a $2.8 million prize.  Pursuant to the contest rules, the Sponsor could require him to take a polygraph test.  He did.  He was found to have used “countermeasures” to manipulate the examination process.  Ooh, the plot thickens. The boat’s captain and crew were also given polygraph tests which purportedly helped sink Heasley.  Apparently, the claim is that Heasley’s catch report had a catch time of 8:15 a.m. that was written over with a time of 9:05 a.m..  The Official Rules state that anglers cannot fish until after 8:30 a.m.  Waiting to snare the big prize were the other winners.

The Sponsor, after conferring with the three independent judges, determined Heasely was disqualified.  The Sponsor then filed an Interpleader action in Maryland state court (which was later removed to federal court) seeking to deposit the prize money in escrow and let Heasely and the other winners fight it out.  But the Sponsor didn’t stop there.  The Official Rules provided that the Sponsor “shall be entitled to reimbursement for 5 times its costs and fees, including attorneys’ fees, which result from the determination and resolution of the validity of unjustified protests.”  The Sponsor then sought 5x its attorneys’ fees in the lawsuit. (more…)

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