CARU Examines Boy Scouts Sweepstakes Advertising, Recommends Modifications

New York, NY – Feb. 25, 2015 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Boy Scouts of America (BSA) modify advertising for the “Boys Life Cybersearch Sweepstakes” to more clearly identify the odds of winning a $100 grand prize.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

Sweepstakes advertising appeared in Boys’ Life magazine, published by BSA, and the contest was hosted at the BSA website. The advertising at issue came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.

In this case, in order to comply with CARU’s Guidelines, both the print advertisement and the website needed to clearly disclose the odds of winning to children. After carefully examining the evidence, CARU determined that neither had adequate disclosures.

Although the print advertisement for the Sweepstakes contained a disclosure stating, “many will enter, one will win…” it appeared at the bottom of the page in very small type.

The website did not contain a proximate disclosure revealing the odds of winning. The web page that described the sweepstakes and where children could enter did not include a  disclosure about the odds of winning. Instead, the information was located on a separate page with the sweepstakes officials rules.

CARU has held that website disclosures must be located immediately adjacent to the promotional copy.  To comply with the CARU’s guidelines, a sweepstakes like the one in question would design the online registration process so that children would automatically view a precise description of the chances of winning before they were able to enter.

CARU recommended that future sweepstakes advertising provide the requisite disclosures in conspicuous form in all media and include a disclosure at the point of entry on websites.

BSA, in its advertiser’s statement, said that it respects CARU’s conclusions and that going forward it will use its best efforts to ensure that CARU’s recommended odds-of-winning disclosures are clearly and conspicuously displayed in print and online advertising … .