Category Archives: Sweepstakes/Promotions

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Definitely not “Winning”: Scammers Pay Millions to FTC and Missouri Attorney General for Running Deceptive Prize Scheme

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 … Continue Reading

These Six Letters Can Spell “Trouble” for Sweeps and Promotions

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 … Continue Reading

It’s Not a Small World, After All, for Sweepstakes: Lessons Learned from International Sweepstakes

And 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 … 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

Perhaps 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, … Continue Reading

Water Drinking Contest Causes Waves at the FCC, Potentially Sinking the Promoter

It 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 … Continue Reading

Don’t Let “Pink” Marketing Lead to Others Seeing Red

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 … Continue Reading

Golden Rules: Diving Into Rule 40

The next issue in our series of blog posts about the Olympics considers “Rule 40,” which can get both advertisers and athletes into trouble. We think Rule 40 deserves a gold medal for generating buzz in the advertising world, and a silver for generating confusion. Rule 40 restricts participants in the Olympic Games (i.e., competitors, … Continue Reading

Three Strikes and You’re Out!: The FTC’s Native Advertising Case Against Lord & Taylor

Baseball season is just around the corner, and the FTC’s native advertising case against retailer Lord & Taylor illustrates the baseball rule of “Three strikes and you’re out!”  In its first native advertising case since releasing its Enforcement Policy Statement Addressing Native Advertising and Deceptively Formatted Advertising, the FTC reminds advertisers that those guidelines will … Continue Reading

Debt Collection Tops 2015 List of Most Common Consumer Complaints

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has just released its Annual Summary of Consumer Complaints, and debt collection (29%), identity theft (16%), and imposter scams (11%) top the list of the most common categories of consumer complaints. The Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book is produced every year from complaints received by the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network, … Continue Reading

New York AG Targets “Deceptive” Online Endorsements

On February 11, 2016, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced four independent settlements related to the use of allegedly deceptive online testimonials and reviews.  These cases reflect continuing concern by the New York Attorney General’s office over “astroturfing” (the posting of fake or otherwise biased reviews).  We wrote about theses enforcement actions previously … Continue Reading

Hear! Hear! FCC Modernizes Contest Rules for Broadcasters

The days of on-air fast-talking contest announcements are coming to an end.  Last Thursday, the FCC adopted revised rules that allow broadcasters to disclose contest rules on an Internet website, as opposed to reading them over the air.  Prior to this rule change, under the FCC’s “Contest Rule” (47 C.F.R. Section 73.1216), broadcasters that advertised … Continue Reading

Don’t Doom Your Crowdfunding Project with the FTC: Keep Your Promises

The crowdfunding world got a bit more crowded this week–from a legal perspective, at least–when the Federal Trade Commission entered the fray with its first crowdfunding case against a project creator and his allegedly deceptive Kickstarter® Campaign.  The FTC announced Monday on its website that it took action under Section 5 of the FTC Act … Continue Reading

Running a Compliant Sweepstakes Ain’t No Game: U.S. Department of Justice Claims $2.7 Million in Illegally Obtained Sweepstakes Entrance Fees

Sweepstakes and contests seem like they’re a dime a dozen these days, and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have made the administration of giveaways more accessible and user-friendly for even small business users.  We find that some businesses downplay the complexity of the rules and regulations governing these valuable promotional tools while others … Continue Reading

FAQ Series 1: FTC Issues New Guidance on Endorsements and Related Online Disclosures

When preparing to run advertising that includes endorsements, our clients frequently ask whether any “magic words” are necessary and how disclosures should be made on space-constrained forums such as Twitter.  On May 29, 2015, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) staff announced it had addressed some of these questions by updating the FAQs to its Guides … Continue Reading

Fantasy League Competitors Battle on the NAD Court for Decision Over Who Can Claim “Largest US-Based Website”

We love a good March Madness legal blog (see here and here and here)  and NAD gave us some great fodder this month deciding a case between two large daily fantasy sports league websites.   This one wasn’t exactly an upset like so many of the games this year leading to the Sweet 16.   DraftKings claimed … Continue Reading

From Art Gallery to Billboard – The Game-Changing Presence of Promoted Pins on Pinterest®

Pinterest®, since it first appeared on the scene in 2010, has been the darling of crafty do-it-yourselfers (DIYs), ambitious brides-to-be, fitness aficionados, foodies, and anyone else interested in creating their own little portfolio of images carefully curated from sites around the Internet.  Pinterest has consistently presented itself as a tool that could be used by … Continue Reading

Facebook Changes the Rules Again: The Sally Field Principle of “Likes” on Social Media

We’re all pretty used to seeing sweepstakes that require entrants to “like” an advertiser’s or app’s Facebook® page in order to enter—they’re probably the most common type of promotion on Facebook.  Many marketers require consumers to “like” an application’s Page as a condition of entry into a sweepstakes or contest, in order to receive coupons … Continue Reading

FTC Gives Cole Haan’s Contest the #Boot

On March 20, 2014, the FTC issued a closing letter to Cole Haan that will affect all kinds of advertisers (and advertisements) on social media.  In particular, it will impact the way that brands interact with users on Pinterest and tell their users to use hashtags in contests and other types of promotions.  So advertisers, … Continue Reading

Advertisers, Don’t Get Caught in the Cold with the SuperBowl, the Olympics and March Madness: Pay Attention to Trademarks!

As we shiver and bundle up against the Polar Vortex here in DC, we are fast approaching the biggest event of the advertising year—the Super Bowl®—held for the first time in the wintry conditions of New Jersey).  With the Olympic Games® in Sochi, Russia after that, and March Madness® following soon thereafter, February and March … Continue Reading

Retailers Should Be Nice When Charging Tax on Gift Cards or Risk Coal in Their Stockings

On December 10th, with consumers decking the halls and swarming retail stores, the Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services, Kevin B. Sullivan, gave a warning to holiday shoppers that gift cards are not subject to sales tax in Connecticut. According to the Commissioner, shoppers should return to the store with their receipts and … Continue Reading

CARU Reprimands Boy Scouts for Sweepstakes Ads: What Are the Odds?

The Boy Scouts of America failed to get their compliance badge from CARU earlier this month after the BSA ran a sweepstakes ad that lacked the appropriate odds of winning disclosures.  The BSA’s Boy’s Life Magazine failed to include the “Many Will Enter, Five Will Win” odds statement in the magazine’s ad announcing the sweeps, … Continue Reading

Facebook Changes The Rules of the Game – Again

Like many social media platforms, Facebook has rules in place that specifically govern the administration and advertisement of prize promotions on the site.  Marketers who wish to run sweepstakes and contests must comply with these rules, or risk having their carefully-designed sweepstakes or contest shut down mid-promotion, cutting off access to a key segment of … Continue Reading

“We Are Never, Ever, Ever Getting Back Together” Without Contest Rules in Place

Last week, a radio station in Boston canceled its “Taylor Swift’s Biggest Fan” contest after it came out that a 39-year-old man named Charles was set to win the grand title.  The radio station issued a statement clarifying the reasoning for its decision: “Disappointingly, we have determined that the integrity of the ‘Taylor Swift’s Biggest … Continue Reading