News and Updates around PBS


A place to share our thoughts, findings, and general updates.

Product Review Incentive Promotions Require Disclosures

Product review sweepstakes are common place and just this year, the NAD released new guidelines regarding disclosure requirements.  

Anywhere that product reviews are incentivized by a prize should somewhere show a brief disclosure about the connection between the review and the incentive. 

“Advertisers incentivizing reviews with sweepstakes or contest entries should ensure that such reviews contain a disclosure regarding the material connection between the entrant and the advertiser.” Read more here

Below are a few examples of how a manufacturer or retailer displays a disclosure for product reviews that are associated to a sweepstakes.

1. Raymour & Flanigan

2. JCPenney 

3. Nordstrom 


#Disclosures - Are they necessary?

Hashtags are all the rage, and it's no surprise they are seeping into the realm of social promotions. While we can all agree that saying the words "hashtag" and some other term should really be outlawed, when put into practice, these little guys have become quite the resource, allowing people to view all related posts to trending topics, current events, or even all of those pictures that should have stayed buried.

The next logical step, of course, is for brands to utilize this tool when engaging their audience in campaigns and promotions. 

 Here's the catch - the FTC ruled that all hashtag promotions require a disclosure. More specifically, that "entry into a contest to receive a significant prize in exchange for endorsing a product through social media constitutes a material connection that would not reasonably be expected by viewers of the endorsement," wrote Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director for advertising practices.  You can read more about this ruling here.

So, you've seen the recent promotions with hashtags and disclosures. In fact, just look up #contest on any social media site, and you can find many examples. One promotion we worked on was the #WAHLGroomedContest.

The key here is that "Contest" or "Sweeps" or "promotion" or some other reasonable disclosure is included in the promotion hashtag, or as a separate hashtag that is a requirement to enter. 

Cut and dry, right?  Well, maybe not -- you've seen the major brands run promotions without a disclosure.  One recent example is Bud Light's #UpForWhatever promotion.  They are giving away admission to Whatever, USA this summer -- and yet, there's no disclosure.  

There's the loophole -- if the promotion hashtag had been #BudLightUpForWhatever -- they would need to include the disclosure, because the brand name was included.  Since it isn't, they don't need the disclosure.

There you have it. Still have questions? Don't hesitate to give us a call!

Sweeps Vs Contests - The Final Word

So, this isn't THE final word on sweepstakes vs contests - but you get what I mean.  We've really only covered the basics, and you're welcome. We could write novels on this stuff, but we'll spare you.  If you take anything away from our series, these next few points are it: 

1) Sweepstakes are a random draw, and cannot require a purchase.  Contests are "skills based" - meaning the entries will be judged, and the best one wins . There are legal reasons for this distinction, namely to prohibit illegal lotteries, (This is one of those junctures where a novel could start..)

2) Sweepstakes are great for building a customer base, email list, etc.

3) Contests engage your existing customer base.  So, a good 1, 2 punch: Sweepstakes to build the list, and then a contest to further engage.

4) Regardless of the promotion you choose - you need rules.  Because of the ever changing landscape of rules, regulations, and terms of service for various social networks (which is where many of these promotions are administered these days) - you should have them legally reviewed.  This protects your brand and most importantly, the consumer.

5) Promotions can be as simple as a free product giveaway or as complex as a multi-level contest with judging and sweepstakes overlays, and trips around the world as prizes. Bottom line, if you have no idea where to start, consult an expert.  We certainly would prefer you call us -- but I would definitely advise you to speak with someone who's done this before. 

So, there you have it. A top line, birds eye view of sweepstakes and contests.  If you ever want to dive into the details, give me a call!

Official Rules Rule

Official Rules? Do we need them?  Short answer: yes.  

Long Answer: 

This comes up more often than you'd think. "But we're only giving away a T-shirt on Facebook, what's the big deal?!"  The big deal is this: Rules protect your brand and your business.  They also protect the consumer. They act as a contract.  Do X, you could win Y. Otherwise, there are loopholes, and unclear promotions, and at the end of the day, a confused follower could become an upset follower.  These days, the old mantra of "a happy customer will tell 1 person about your business and an unhappy one will tell 5 people about your business" still rings true -- but add some zeroes to that number. When you're simply trying to have some fun and give some things away - do it right.  Don't open your brand up to potentially upsetting a customer.  You certainly didn't mean to - but the whole issue could have been avoided with clear expectations for both parties, and that's where rules come into play.

Not to mention, rules are required by the FTC for any and all promotions.  For exactly the reasons above, but mostly for the protection of the consumer.  So, not only is it a best practice - it's the law.

We'll spare the gory details for now - but there are different laws for different states (that's why rules tend to be PAGES long - to satisfy ALL of those requirements in 1 document for a national or North American promotion).  We've dealt with all sorts of promotions, and they are all different - and the laws are too.  Based on the industry, the location of the promotion, the prize, the value of the prize, the type of business you have, etc. 


Sounds scary, but really, as long as your "t's" are crossed, your brand will be protected. Still scared? Give us a call - we're here to help! 



A great article from Marketing Profs - discussing the same: To support that blog we posted last week :)

Sweeps vs Contest - Which promotion to run?

In this edition of Sweeps vs Contest, let's cover the appropriate times to run either promotion.

Let's start with the Sweepstakes. Again, a sweepstakes is a simple random draw. Entrants provide their contact information in exchange for a chance to win. As you can imagine, this is a really great time to add an opt-in box to that entry form.  Because sweepstakes are typically very easy to enter, you can expect volume participation, and this is a GREAT tactic to use when you're looking to simply build your fan base, email list, Facebook following -- you name it.  Providing an easy way to interact with potential new customers is a quick way to build that base. 

On the flip side, Contests require a bit more effort.  Here, you want to leverage your existing fan base (so, it would make sense to run a few sweeps first to build that up).  You are encouraging your audience to interact with your brand -- posting pictures, recipes, videos, design boards, you name it. While you're engaging your audience, you're also collecting user generated content, or new product ideas, or other valuable insights.  Here, since you are asking more from the entrant, you can (typically) expect less volume than a sweeps - but the quality of interaction is higher.  You're spending more time with your audience than a simple entry form.  The results can be pretty spectacular.

So, which to choose - a sweeps or a contest?  That's really up to you! If you need help making that decision, give us a call! 

Sweeps vs Contest - Know the Difference!

All too often, the words "Contest" and "Sweepstakes" are used interchangeably with promotions. These 2 different types of promotions couldn't be any more different. We're going to do a series of blogs notating the distinct differences in each of these types of promotions, when to employ either tactic, and the legal watch outs for running such a promotion. 

First, let's start with the basics, demonstrated in the image below.  We'll go into detail on each of these items later in the series, but the most important thing to remember with sweepstakes and contests is that the key difference lies in how winners are chosen.

With a sweepstakes - entrants submit their contact information in exchange for a chance to win.  It's as simple as that.  

With a contest - the entrant submits something they've created (photo, recipe, song, etc), and the winner is chosen based on their skill.  "The best _______ wins."

At the end of the day -- there's the difference.  However, sometimes a sweepstakes could be "disguised" as a contest -- for instance -- you could have a photo submission promotion that would encourage entrants to submit photos - but the winner is chosen by random draw in the end. And, since we now know that when a winner is chosen by chance, it's a sweepstakes! 

Don't Have Channel Bias!

In the realm of social promotions, Facebook is king. But with the recent decline in organic reach and the removal of the likegate - should brands shift their focus to other networks?

Our answer, YES!!!  But - not just because of those factors - Facebook is still a powerhouse, and still a great way to reach your fans - but don't forget about all of the other social networks out there! Did you know teenagers and young adults are steering more towards Instagram these days? And, we're sure you knew that moms and crafty (and wanna-be crafty) folk are spending TONS of time on Pinterest?

Give these, and other, networks a try when considering your next promotion.  And, of course, get creative - don't just "Pin it to Win it" -- we know you can do better than that!

PBS's Social Media Week Session

This week, we were honored to present at Social Media Week with one of our agency partners - what a great session! We can't wait to do it again! 

Covering a little discussed topic - Social Promotions - and the legal do's and don'ts as well as some great examples of successful social promotions. There were so many great ideas and questions - it was truly amazing to be in a room with 70+ marketers.  

Here's what the audience thought while they live tweeted the session using