Doing good doesn’t get old. But marketing leaders know that effective promotion of a company’s charitable giving requires a subtle combination of bedrock advertising principles with a few twists. It’s often here that marketing and legal meet at the eleventh hour before a campaign goes live. Understanding the bounds of federal, state, and local laws that regulate charitable fundraising before these efforts launch helps marketing teams to be more efficient.

Knowing what type of giving campaign is in play is critical for understanding what regulatory requirements apply. While options abound, some perennial favorites include:Continue Reading Syncing Marketing and Legal: Compliance Considerations for Cause-Related Marketing

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Effectively marketing your company’s charitable giving efforts requires not only the application of creative advertising principles, but an underlying familiarity with applicable responsibilities under federal, state, and even local laws. From sweepstakes and contests, to commercial coventurers’ charitable sales promotions, customer donation

We’ve all seen the COVID-19 fall-out in the past few weeks—indeed, we’ve all lived the fall-out.  But the promotions, events, and hospitality industry has been particularly hard-hit by the recent restrictions on public gatherings and travel. From Coachella to SXSW to the Olympics, events around the globe have been cancelled, rescheduled, or postponed —sometimes indefinitely—due to the pandemic.  These postponements and cancellations have put companies sponsoring promotions such as sweepstakes and contests, events, and ad campaigns linked to these postponed events in a difficult position.  How do companies protect themselves from potential liability associated with the postponement or cancellation of a sponsored event?  Can one change the terms and conditions of sweepstakes associated with an event to when the event is postponed or cancelled?  Those of us familiar with contract law understand how important a well-drafted Force Majeure clause can be in this situation.  But one doesn’t always have a well-drafted Force Majeure clause when dealing with a new pandemic.  And, as is often the case, sweepstakes and prize promotions rules (and related documents) are a form of contract, but they are a type of agreement that is regulated a bit differently from a standard commercial contract between sophisticated business entities that have negotiated in good faith.  Let’s unpack that.
Continue Reading Coronavirus Cancellations: How Do They Affect My Promotion?

In February 2018, the FTC teamed up with the Missouri Attorney General’s office in filing a complaint against a prize promotions company and others that allegedly operated a large-scale deceptive prize scam targeting the elderly. A little more than a year later, the FTC and the Missouri AG’s office announced that they reached a settlement

Enter to Win!There are certain words and phrases that set the antennae of promotions lawyers – and law enforcers – buzzing. “Everybody wins” comes to mind right away – but there is one little word that can pay out tremendous legal problems and should concern anyone involved in executing sweepstakes and promotions. That word is “raffle.”

While many people use “raffle” interchangeably with “sweepstakes” or “drawing” to designate a legal game of chance that any entity can run, most raffles are illegal under federal and state gambling laws. Narrow exceptions exist for certain activities involving nonprofit organizations, such as charities, but those carve-outs and their accompanying requirements vary from state to state.

The chief problem with raffles is that they, by their nature, contain all three elements of an illegal lottery: (1) the award of a prize; (2) that is determined by chance; and (3) participants must submit consideration to enter.Continue Reading These Six Letters Can Spell “Trouble” for Sweeps and Promotions

medal winnerAnd the big “winner” is (drumroll) … the Italian Competition Authority. A multinational electronics company was a most recent victim of the stringent Italian prize promotion regulations — to the tune of € 3.1 million (or roughly US$3.37 million). The costly sanctions were imposed on the company by Italian authorities for, among other issues, unfair commercial practices. The authorities challenged the execution of some of the company’s promotions, claiming that the advertising for the promotions did not include clear and sufficiently visible explanations of how to win the prize, in violation of Italian customary commercial practices, and that the sponsor’s requirement that the winner must register and provide personal information in order to win the prize was in violation of Italian law as well. And the issues highlighted above are just some of the parameters a marketer needs to consider when running a successful sweepstakes in Italy, from a notary requirement to the need for a VAT (“value-added tax”) representative for non-Italian sponsors to the need for compliance with Italian privacy laws. The combination of these issues provided the perfect backdrop for an enforcer to make an example out of the multinational company’s marketing efforts, and gives us the perfect opportunity to remind companies to be diligent when running international promotions while we alert our base to these complex foreign issues.
Continue Reading It’s Not a Small World, After All, for Sweepstakes: Lessons Learned from International Sweepstakes

beerPerhaps some readers once (or still do!) enjoyed some Natty Light while listening to the Beastie Boys. Some time ago, we blogged about the ongoing Beastie Boys litigation against Monster Energy over copyright and right of publicity issues for a video Monster Energy posted on its website. The next case to watch is Kraft v. Anheuser-Busch, LLC where individual Kayla Kraft sued Anheuser-Busch for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, and violation of her right of publicity for using her image in an advertising campaign. This quite delightful photo shows Ms. Kraft drinking a beer and wearing a fake mustache and was allegedly used by Anheuser-Busch on posters and coasters in its “Every Natty Has a Story” Natural Light campaign. According to Kraft’s complaint, a friend took the picture of Ms. Kraft with Kraft’s phone in February 2013. Ms. Kraft then posted the photo to Facebook. Her friend later assigned her copyright in the photo to Ms. Kraft who registered the photo with the U.S. Copyright Office, and Kraft sued on February 20, 2016. Anheuser-Busch’s Answer is due by April 7, 2017.
Continue Reading A Timely Reminder to Re-Examine Your IP Clearance Protocol: Anheuser-Busch Sued by Individual for Use of a Photo She Posted to Social Media

water glassIt has been almost a decade since a water-drinking contest held by an Entercom’s Sacramento radio station resulted in the death of a contestant, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a long memory.  Last week, the FCC issued a Hearing Designation Order (it can be found here) to determine whether the license held by Entercom – one of the largest station owners in the country – should not be renewed based on new information about the “Hold Your Wee for a Wii” contest.

The 2007 contest challenged participants to compete for a prize by drinking water at regular intervals. To win, a contestant would have to be “the last one standing” (or holding it) – the competitor could not use the bathroom until the competition was over.  The radio station at no point, either before or during the contest, announced the risks associated with the contest in general or water intoxication.  Ultimately, the contest led to the fatal water intoxication of contestant Jennifer L. Strange.  Civil claims for wrongful death were filed against the radio station, which was ultimately found to have been negligent.Continue Reading Water Drinking Contest Causes Waves at the FCC, Potentially Sinking the Promoter

Among other things (National Pizza Month, anyone?), October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Washington Post recently published an interesting article about the connection between retail apparel marketing and breast cancer awareness efforts. The combination of the two – “pink marketing” – is as ubiquitous during the month of October as Halloween candy and pumpkin-spiced lattes.

White House Goes PinkOver time, cancer charities have sought to increase donor awareness of their mission and boost fundraising by partnering with for-profit corporations. This cause-related marketing can be mutually beneficial: the charity is helped by the company’s marketing budget and public relations heft, while the company enhances its goodwill with customers (indeed, some research supports the notion of a “halo effect” for retailers that consumers believe are socially conscious). Thus, we see successful partnerships like the one featured in the Washington Post article between the National Football League and the American Cancer Society, or relationships between World Wrestling Entertainment and Susan G. Komen. In October, hulking athletes incorporate pink into their uniforms and leap from pink wrestling ropes. Celebrities wear pink ribbons and retailers offer pink-colored versions of their products. Even the White House goes pink.Continue Reading Don’t Let “Pink” Marketing Lead to Others Seeing Red