How important are legal issues in contests/sweepstakes?

You Win image

In researching contests and sweepstakes to analyze, I came across several different brands that disclosed the legal issues correctly but also came across some that did not. In this blog, I will be reviewing the do’s and don’t’s of a contest/sweepstakes. When it comes to legal issues revolving around contests/sweepstakes, it is something you definitely do not want to overlook. Legal issues are very important and if you do not include them or word them correctly then it could lead the participants confused as to how to participate. You can also get into a lot of trouble as a brand if your rules are not made very clear. There are many laws in place to protect a brand when doing a contests/sweepstakes that need to be presented to potential participants when it is first announced..

What is the difference between a contest, sweepstakes, or a lottery?

Sweepstakes: a promotional drawing in which prizes are given away to participants. There is no purchase required to enter and the sweepstakes winners are selected at random from a pool of all of the eligible entrants.

Contest: a promotional drawing in which prizes are given away with one major difference: participants are judged by their entrants according to a pre-defined set of criteria. From a pool of participants, the “best” entry is selected to win and is awarded a prize.

Lottery: requires a purchase, chance, and a prize.

Hashtag contest and sweepstakes

One of the legal requirements of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the inclusion of the hashtags #contest and #sweepstakes in the entrant’s post on social media. The FTC found that not clearly stating that the post is related to a contest or sweepstakes, that participant’s followers would think they were only promoting a brand and not a contest/sweepstakes.

Yeti x Traeger National Barbecue Month Sweepstakes

This collaboration between the brand Yeti and Traeger sweepstake was announced in May of 2021 on both Yeti’s and Traeger’s facebook and instagram pages. The sweepstake was in honor of National Barbecue month. For those who don’t know, yeti is a high end cooler brand and Traeger is a company that sells high end grills. It makes sense that they would partner together for a sweepstakes as most people associate coolers of cold drinks when barbecuing outdoors.

Rules of the sweepstakes

  • Post a picture of your barbecue setup
  • Tag both @traegergrills @yeti and use the hashtags #YETIxTraegerBBQ and #Sweepstakes in the caption to be entered to win.
  • Tune back in on May 31st to see if you’re one of our lucky winners.
Traeger Grill’s facebook post on May 23rd, 2021 regarding the sweepstake.

Participants are vying for the following prizes:

1. The Smoke the Competition Prize Pack winner will win a Tundra 45 in our new King Crab Orange and a Traeger Ironwood 885 complete with grill accessories and YETI drinkware and gear.⁠
2. Our Seasoned Grillmaster Prize Pack winner will win a King Crab Orange Roadie 24 and Traeger Ranger complete with grill accessories, YETI drinkware and gear.⁠
3. Our final 5 Badge of Honor winners will get their hands on a King Crab Orange Rambler Lowball, YETI Hat, and Custom Traeger Grill Mat.⁠

That information was found on the main Instagram post of Traeger Grills when announcing the sweepstakes. The linked rules on the post included a more in-depth list of what the winners will receive, including the dollar value of each prize.

Doing it the right way!

Both Yeti and Traeger are no strangers when it comes to sweepstakes, as evidenced by the post highlighted in this presentation. They gave a generalized snapshot of the rules in the main post but then included a very in-depth and spelled out list of the rules and requirements in an embedded link within the post. They also included and required the correct hashtag that the FTC requires for contests and sweepstakes for participants to include in their entry posts.

EpiCentre contest

Epicentre is a Charleston-based OB/GYN practice that recently posted a contest on Facebook. The rules for entering were posted on the original facebook post announcing the contest. The only hashtag that needed to be posted with a participant’s picture entry was #epicentrecharleston. There was no requirement to include the FTC’s required hashtag that must be attached to every contest/sweepstakes.

EpiCentre facebook post about about their contest.

Subsequent posts after the selections were narrowed down to four potential winners did not specify how voting was to take place. People were commenting the number of the baby they were voting for while others were only “liking” the picture of their choice. I still haven’t figured out how the winner was chosen as one baby’s picture had clearly more likes than the other 3 but yet, she didn’t even come in first or second place.

EpiCentre facebook post about their contest.

Do better next time!

Lastly, although The Epicenter failed to meet the legal issues regarding rules and requirements, they were correct in calling it a contest vs. a sweepstakes. The “best” entry selected to win the prize was chosen by arbitrary opinion, such as the popularity of an entry among fans.

Published by rachelhamilton20

Recreation and Sport Management major with a Marketing minor.

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