Posts Tagged: Sweepstakes

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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Where’s the Beef? Selling Internet Time Could Get You Time (The Sweepstakes Legitimate Product Requirement)

In 1984, Clara Peller, when opening a bun and finding only a tiny burger, first asked the famous line, “Where’s the beef?” This question is still relevant today in sweepstakes world. Even if you have an AMOE, when you provide entries for purchasing a product, it better be a hamburger and not just the aroma.

This week an attorney was reinstated to the Florida Bar after four years and having been convicted (which was later overturned and remanded) of various crimes for advising a client on the legality of running a “sweepstakes” involving internet cafés selling “internet time” to its customers who then received entries which simulated popular casino-style games to reveal whether the customer won a prize.  (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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“You Are [NOT] a Winner” Consent Order Entered Against Printer/Mailer of Deceptive Prize Notifications

On February 9, 2017, a consent order was entered in favor of the FTC against the general manager of a company engaged to procure printing and mailing of deceptive prize notifications.  The individual got laminated for $800,000 (subject to reduction).

The lesson: anyone involved with deceptive prize/sweepstakes/contests mailings could get in serious trouble.

According to the Complaint, the sponsor, using the aforementioned company, mailed hundreds of thousands of personalized cash prize notifications announcing that the recipients had won a cash prize of $943,543.54.  (NB: maybe a million dollars outright seemed too suspicious?)

Of course, the offer was made to sound juicy: “YOU HAVE WON A CASH PRIZE! … Your name was identified among a tiny percentage of ALL eligible individuals.  The fact that you have won a cash prize must be thrilling and somewhat overwhelming.”

Of course, they targeted the elderly.  Of course, they asked for a “fee” of $25 to collect the prize.  Of course, people complied.  And of course, they didn’t get the cash prize.

Why go after the printer/mailer?  The sponsor gave him the electronic templates of the prize notifications, the outer envelopes and the return envelopes, and instructed him on the quantities to print, who to mail them too, and when to mail them.  (He may have done some editing too.)  He then arranged for the notices to be printed and mailed out.  According to the FTC this was enough to be in on the scheme. (more…)

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Will The Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 Affect Contests and Sweepstakes? (Hint: Yes)

On December 14, 2016, the Consumer Review Fairness Act of 2016 was passed to try to put an end to companies taking down nasty reviews about their products.

Congress’s way of telling companies: if you ask for it, you’re gonna get it.

The new law – effective March 14, 2017 – generally prohibits companies from imposing upon users a restriction for posting negative written, oral or pictorial reviews or similar performance assessments about the company’s goods or services.  The new law also prohibits mandating people to transfer their rights to their reviews or feedback to the company (a nonexclusive license is ok).

Could this new law have a dramatic and lasting impact on contests and sweepstakes as we know it?  I don’t think we’re quite at Chicken Little stage, but the reach of this new law could have a serious effect on contests and sweepstakes that seek reviews or feedback on a sponsor’s product.  That’s because the new law applies when the restrictions are contained in “form contracts,” defined as contracts with standardized terms that the other person doesn’t have any meaningful opportunity to negotiation.  Sounds like Official Rules.

“Tell us in 3 words or less how much fun you had on your last Sponsor To The Stars vacation” or “Post your favorite Sponsor Sandwich for a chance to win even more Sponsor sandwiches.” or “Tweet the 50 things you love about Sponsor Soap to #SponsorSoapSweeps.”  All potentially affected. (more…)

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2016: The Year in Review

In case you missed it, here are some notable items from 2016 concerning sweepstakes, contests, and related promotional matters:

Influencers, Native Advertising, and Endorsements

2016 kicked off with reaction to the FTC’s new Native Advertising Rules which seek more transparency in sponsored stories/advertising.

In March, in its first enforcement action, the FTC cracked down on Lord & Taylor for paying “influencers” to attract social media attention to its Paisley Asymmetrical Dress.  The FTC issued a number of directives, including making the influencers aware of their participation, and making disclosure of the relationship unavoidable.

In May, the National Advertising Division (NAD), a self-regulatory industry, issued a decision concerning native advertising appearing in People.com under the “Stuff We Love” section.  The NAD determined that disclosure of the sponsorship must be made before you get to the stuff page.

In July, the FTC charged Warner Bros. with making inadequate disclosures in videos of influencers playing a new video game.  The FTC didn’t like that the sponsorship disclosure was in a collapsed box below the video and needed to be in a place where consumers will find it.

In October, in an effort to comply with the FTC Rule, YouTube introduced a new feature allowing visible text on a video for the first few seconds with the label stating “Includes paid promotion”

The take:  Consumers and the FTC don’t particularly like “influencers” or hidden ads, so be conspicuous. (more…)

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