DMA requires its members to follow the DMA Guidelines on Ethical Business Practice. We have highlighted the following Articles which specifically apply to sweepstakes and contest promotions:
Article #1 Honesty & Clarity of the Offer: All offers should be clear, honest and complete so that the consumer may know the exact nature of what is being offered, the price, the terms of payment (including all extra charges) and the commitment involved in the placing of an order.
Article #2, Accuracy and Consistency: Simple and consistent statements or representations of all the essential points of the offer should appear in the promotional material. The overall impression of an offer should not be contradicted by individual statements, representations, or disclaimers.
Article #3, Clarity of Representations: Representations which, by their size, placement, duration, or other characteristics are unlikely to be noticed or are difficult to understand should not be used if they are material to the offer.
Article #4 Actual Conditions: All descriptions, promises and claims of limitation should be in accordance with actual conditions, situations, and circumstances existing at the time of the promotion.
Article #10 Solicitation in the Guise of an Invoice or Governmental Notification: Offers that are likely to be mistaken for bills, invoices, or notices from public utilities, or governmental agencies should not be used.
Article #22 Use of the Term “Sweepstakes”: Sweepstakes are promotional devices by which items of value (prizes) are awarded to participants by chance without the promoter’s requiring the participants to render something of value (consideration) to be eligible to participate. The co-existence of all three elements — prize, chance and consideration — in the same promotion constitutes a lottery. It is illegal for any private enterprise to run a lottery without specific governmental authorization.
Article #23 No Purchase Option: Promotions should clearly state that no purchase is required to win sweepstakes prizes. They should not represent that those who make a purchase or otherwise render consideration with their entry will have a better chance of winning or will be eligible to win more or larger prizes than those who do not make a purchase or otherwise render consideration. The method for entering without ordering should be easy to find, read, and understand. When response devices used only for entering the sweepstakes are provided, they should be as easy to find as those utilized for ordering the product or service.
Article #24 Chances of Winning: No sweepstakes promotion, or any of its parts, should represent that a recipient or entrant has won a prize or that any entry stands a greater chance of winning a prize than any other entry when this is not the case. Winners should be selected in a manner that ensures fair application of the laws of chance.
Article #25 Prizes: Sweepstakes prizes should be advertised in a manner that is clear, honest, and complete so that the consumer may know the exact nature of what is being offered. For prizes paid over time, the annual payment schedule and number of years should be clearly disclosed.
- Photographs, illustrations, artwork, and the situations they represent should be accurate portrayals of the prizes listed in the promotion.
- No award or prize should be held forth directly or by implication as having substantial monetary value if it is of nominal worth. The value of a non-cash prize should be stated at regular retail value, whether actual cost to the sponsor is greater or less.
- All prizes should be awarded and delivered without cost to the participant. If there are certain conditions under which a prize or prizes will not be awarded, that fact should be disclosed in a manner that is easy to find, read, and understand.
Article #61 Laws, Codes and Regulations: There are federal laws that cover fraudulent mailings, as indicated above. Moreover, according to the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1999, government seals should not be used in mail pieces.