CARU Recommends Disney Modify Sweepstakes Advertising, Company Agrees To Do So

 New York, NY – March 10, 2009 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that the Walt Disney Company audibly disclose a free means of entry and the likelihood of winning in advertising sweepstakes to children. The company has said it will do so in all future advertising.

CARU, children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined broadcast advertising for a holiday promotion, Disney Movie Rewards, which came to CARU’s attention through CARU’s ongoing monitoring of advertising directed to children under the age of 12. The promotion aired during children’s programming.

The commercial at issue featured Mrs. Claus, who stated that “Santa gave himself a Disney DVD, and on the inside there’s an extra present that even he didn’t know about.”  Santa opened “Pirates of the Caribbean” DVD case and found a game card with a secret code inside.  A voiceover stated that the cards could be found inside participating Disney DVDs and later stated that every eligible code yields an entry into a million dollar sweepstakes.  A small super on the last screen shot stated, “No purchase necessary.”  The lettering for the super was almost identical in color to the background.

CARU questioned whether the commercial adequately disclosed the free means of entry, the likelihood of winning, and the number of prizes offered.

In response to CARU’s inquiry, Disney stated that the advertisement was no longer running, and that the promotion and sweepstakes would end on January 31, 2009.  The advertiser agreed with CARU’s position that the free means of entry should have been audibly and clearly disclosed and stated that it understood that the number of prizes and likelihood of winning were unclear in the commercial. 

Disney stated its intention to comply with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising and agreed to take measures to ensure that future sweepstake advertisements contain language that children can easily understand.