FTC Requirements when Advertising a Sweepstakes
It’s almost summer! And, so many of our clients are taking advantage of the “happy” that comes from all the sunshine by launching a summer sweepstakes. Seems like the perfect time to refresh ourselves with the latest FTC requirements when it comes to advertising a game of chance. So, here we go!
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING RULES APPLY
When advertising your sweepstakes make sure it’s always truthful, non-deceptive and fair. For example, you don’t want to mislead consumers by insinuating someone has won something if they haven’t. You also want to be extra careful how you advertise the prizing you are awarding. So, if you’re awarding the chance to win $1,000,000 for making a hole in one, be sure it’s clear in your advertising that a hole-in-one is the only way the million can be won.
We can help you with your wording to ensure it’s still effective advertising, but also compliant. And, we’ll provide you with legal disclaimers, which are required, and are enforced.
USE HASHTAGS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Although the FTC doesn’t have a specific mandate for advertising on social media, they do have some strong recommendations about disclosing a sweepstakes when you’re advertising one. Use hashtags like, “#contest” and “#sweepstakes” on social media networks when advertising your promotion. We have another great example, here.
The FTC wants to see transparent communication. They don’t want anyone to be confused about what you’re sharing, especially if it’s an advertisement. So, don’t try to save space by using abbreviated terms like “#sweeps”. It could get you in hot water.
EDUCATE YOUR INFLUENCERS ABOUT DISCLOSURES
If you’re using social influencers to promote your sweepstakes, make sure you’ve made them aware of the FTC requirements for disclosing the relationship.
Influencers must disclose the material relationship between the Sponsor and the influencer in blog posts (disclosing whether a good or service was received in exchange for a post or other monetary compensation was received) and on social media (with hashtags, like “#sponsored” and “#ad”).
THE COST OF NON COMPLIANCE
Like it or not, the FTC does enforce their rules. The penalties depend upon the nature of the violation, and in most cases are not cheap.
You may receive a cease and desist order along with a fine of $40k+ per day per ad if you violate it. There are also civil penalties (ranging from thousands to millions of dollars) and corrective measures, like fixing your ads, official rules and other material disclosures where misinformation exists.
The internet is an awesome way to advertise your sweepstakes! Just make sure you’re following the rules and you’re on the road to a successful promotion. Contact us with questions! We’re here to help up be successful in your next promotional endeavor!