Things That Make You Go Hmmmm

Commercial Co-Ventures and Sweepstakes Promotions

Remember that song in the ‘90s from the C+C Music Factory called “Things That Make You Go Hmmm….”  I guess I did when I came across some recent promotions.  Perhaps these practice tips will stay with you longer than C+C’s 15 minutes of fame.

Bar Exam Sweepstakes

The set up:  Most young lawyers-to-be are weighed down with tremendous debt after three years of law school, but they have the hope that by shelling out another $250 they’ll get that big Wall Street job to wash away their money problems while creating new emotional ones.  This summer, a personal injury law firm (which I won’t name) currently has a sweepstakes running where a new law grad can enter to win his/her bar exam fee.

The issue: If you’re selected as the winner you have to send in your paid bar exam receipt and then you’ll get reimbursed.   But as all good law students know, requiring a bar exam receipt to claim the prize may be the same as requiring a person to pay to enter. And/or the payment could raise post-consideration issues, since you had to have paid money (the bar fee) to get your prize.

Practice tip: It is duly noted that the sponsor wants to make sure the winner is taking the exam, but awarding the money without proof of receipt may be necessary.  Henceforth, a sponsor in this predicament may want to consider having the entrant confirm on the entry form that he/she will be taking the exam (because what lawyer would lie) and end the promotion early enough so that there would be time for a person to register using the prize money.

Soccer Goals for Hunger

The set up:  In May, Mastercard announced that it will donate 10,000 meals to hungry children in Latin America each time Argentine forward Lionel Messi or Brazilian forward Neyman Jr. score a goal in any official tournament game.  Apparently, these players score goals often?

The issue: Should Mastercard be fighting hunger based on goals scored?  And more importantly, why does Mastercard want to villainize goalies who apparently are the only impediment to stopping hunger?

Practice Tip:  Mastercard was criticized for trivializing hunger, but then wouldn’t every commercial co-venture (this isn’t really a CCV but it’s similar) conceivably “trivialize” the cause, by a company telling consumers, we’ll only donate if you buy our stuff?  Mastercard decided to scrap the program and donate a million meals regardless of the number of goals scored, which because of the backlash was a good idea.  Maybe Mastercard should have picked a sport where the score is likely to be greater than 1-nil or maybe Mastercard could have had a minimum donation, or maybe not limit it to only two players.  The point is that to score in cause marketing, you have to think not only about offense but also defense – consider how your program will sound, how it will be described on social media, and whether the cause fits the brand.

Make America Great Again Sweepstakes

The set up: The Trump Make America Great Again Committee ran a sweepstakes in May for a lucky (?) winner to dine with the President at the Trump Victory Dinner in NYC (I don’t know why it’s a “victory” dinner since it appears to be either almost two years late or the Committee is pretty confident calling the 2020 election).

The issues: (1) The advertising states “Dinner with President Trump in NYC.”  The Official Rules, however, only state that the prize is transportation and tickets to the Trump Victory Dinner and don’t even disclose when it’s to take place.

(2) The ads (in itty bitty type) say that by providing your phone number, you agree to receive automated calls or texts from the various Donald Trump committees.

Practice tips:  (1) If the ads promise dinner with DJT, the Committee better well make sure that the Donald shows up, since, as Abraham Lincoln said, the small type can’t taketh away from the big type.  If the Committee cannot promise Mr. Trump, then they could consider stating this prominently in the ads, such as: “Win a Trip to the Trump Victory Dinner in NYC where the President may be present.”

(2) The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) requires express written consent for automated calls/texts and requires disclosure, at the time of consent, on how to opt out.  It may be a good idea to have an electronic signature method available at entry with clear and conspicuous disclosures, including how to opt out.

That’s it for now.

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