Monday, January 01, 2007

Don't Play The Lottery

Q: I know, of course, that it's illegal to run station promotions or even commercial announcements containing 'prize, chance and consideration,' but does including the words "no purchase necessary" in the promo or spot make it legal?

A: The fact that you are asking for free legal advice from someone who isn't a lawyer, makes me think that perhaps you already know the answer to your question but are hoping to find some justifcation for doing something a client wants anyway.

Back in November of 1992 the Federal Communications Commission fined KRYS, Corpus Christi $6,250 after the station ran a doughnut promotion that was ruled a lottery. The station included the words "no purchase necessary" in the promo copy and told the commission that was enough to exempt the contest from lottery.

However, the FCC ruled that the chances of winning available to entrants who do purchase something must be approximately equal to those who don't spend anything to enter. And, promotional announcements must provide detailed information on locations, times and manners in which the free chances are available. I would not be surprised if that fine amount would even be higher today.

Take note: A&O has been recommending against "go into the retailer and register for our drawing" type contests for clients on the air because there is neither a reason to listen to the radio station at a specific time nor a station positioning benefit involved. The best promotions are simple to explain, easy to enter, force listening, reinforce key station images AND KEEP YOU OUT OF TROUBLE WITH THE FCC.

Make your promotions fun and creative. Take words like "drawing," "be the X caller," "register," and "qualify" out of your promotional vocabulary not just because they might get you in legal trouble .. but because they have become trite cliches. Boring radio.

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