Recently, the fast food sandwich chain Subway agreed to discontinue certain sweepstakes advertising practices in response to a Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) inquiry.
What prompted CARU’s investigation of Subway’s sweepstakes advertising practices?
CARU Inquiry into Sweepstakes Advertising Practices
CARU, an investigative unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (“BBB”), initiated an inquiry into sweepstakes advertising claims made by Subway in a thirty-second television commercial, which aired during children’s programming to promote Subway’s Fresh Fit for Kids meal options.
At the time that the subject commercial aired, each purchased Fresh Fit for Kids meal included one of 32 various Mr. Men and Little Miss toys. The Subway commercial stated that customers could win an Amazon Fire Kids Edition tablet by collecting five of the specific toy variations.
After reviewing the subject sweepstakes advertising, CARU determined that the commercial:
- did not adequately communicate that the sweepstakes promotion was only open to entrants 18 years of age or older;
- did not adequately disclose the sweepstakes’ free alternative means of entry (AMOE);
- did not adequately disclose the odds of winning an Amazon Fire tablet; and
- could create undue sales pressure with the included statement “Hurry in to Subway . . . otherwise you’ll miss out.”
In response to the CARU inquiry, Subway has agreed “to take CARU’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”
How a Sweepstakes Lawyer Can Help
When administered effectively, promotional contest and sweepstakes advertising has the potential to create a lot of buzz (and revenue) for the sponsor. However, CARU and National Advertising Division (“NAD”) inquiries, regulatory investigations and legal proceedings can derail a business’ sweepstakes advertising efforts.
Many sweepstakes-related regulatory and legal risks can be minimized or eliminated entirely by working with experienced marketing counsel before launching a promotional contest. Well-planned promotions can help protect contest and sweepstakes sponsors and their marketing partners from substantial liability. Additionally, a sweepstakes lawyer can help promotion sponsors address a number of legal concerns and industry best practices related to contest rules, sweepstakes advertising, consumer privacy, bonding requirements and other areas of compliance.