Sweepstakes Live? Here’s 5 Mistakes to Avoid
We talk a lot about what to do before your sweepstakes launches. Today, we thought we’d shake things up by offering a little advice on what to do after your sweepstakes has launched.
You may not believe this, but it’s pretty common for Sponsors to make some very simple mistakes after their promotion has gone live (even our clients!). Once we’ve done the initial website programming, official rules and other pre-launch tasks, Sponsors often move ahead with the sweepstakes and make decisions without checking in first.
While this is okay for most things, there are a few very specific things that should never happen once that promotion becomes available to the public.
OFFICIAL RULES NOT POSTED
No matter what type of promotion you are running, you are required to make the official rules readily available to anyone that wants to look at them. This is typically via a URL which is made available in the legal disclaimers.
LEGAL DISCLAIMERS NOT POSTED
You’ve got those posted correctly, right? Legal disclaimers are required to go on any piece of advertising referencing your sweepstakes. That includes print, on air, online and more. And, there are specific requirements for posting depending upon the medium (and promotion type) – like font size, legibility, etc. If you’re not sure about where to post disclaimers for your particular sweepstakes, contest or game, contact us and we’ll take a look for you.
YOU STOPPED YOUR SWEEPSTAKES BEFORE THE OFFICIAL END DATE
We’ve encountered situations in the past where a Sponsor has cancelled a promotion because they didn’t get the traffic they would have liked, or didn’t sell enough products. This is a huge no-no. Once that sweepstakes goes live, you can’t just stop it based upon its performance. It’s your job to promote the heck out of that thing and no matter how successful you find it to be going, you have an obligation to collect entries to the end, select winners and award prizes in accordance with your official rules.
YOU DIDN'T VERIFY THE WINNERS ELIGIBILITY
We encourage Sponsors who are offering high value or experiential prizes to vet their winners before they announce anything publicly or award anything officially (Affidavits of eligibility / liability / publicity releases are the industry standard here). There is nothing worse than announcing a winner who turns out not to be the actual winner based upon a tricky eligibility requirement. Why? Because those non-winning “winners” can cause a lot of negative PR and even legal recourse if you didn’t follow your rules. It’s not pretty. We’ve seen this way too many times to count.
YOU CHANGED YOUR PRIZE
You want to be crystal clear when fulfilling a prize to a winner if anything has changed. Certain changes are allowed based upon how the official rules are written. You may see language that states something like “if the prize becomes available at time of award, a prize of equal or greater value will be awarded”. This is pretty common language, but it can get tricky. A clear line of communication with the winner is key. For example, if the prize you now intend to award is a lot more expensive than the original, ask the winner if they okay with it. Believe it or not, a higher value prize could have a negative impact depending upon the winner’s new tax liability and personal tax situation. Make sure they sign off in writing and work with them. The more you work with them, the better the PR for you in the long run.
HOW TO AVOID MAKING THESE MISTAKES?
The very best way to avoid making these mistakes is to ask us before acting. It’s that simple. If you have chosen to handle a specific administrative element on your own, we won’t leave you hanging. We’re here to be your ally throughout the entire promotional experience and beyond.