BBB National Programs Archive
CARU Recommends IHOP Modify ‘IHOP.com’ Website to Better Disclose Advertising Within Game
New York, NY – Sept. 12, 2012 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that IHOP better disclose on the website www.ihop.com that advertising is present within a game that features “The Lorax,” a character from the Dr. Suess book and a movie of the same name.
CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s self-regulatory system and is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The site came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising and websites directed to children.
Children were directed to IHOP.com from a television commercial for IHOP’s “The Lorax Plant Three Million Trees Challenge and Sweepstakes promotion.”
The homepage featured a video advertisement for the Lorax-inspired IHOP breakfast. A banner advertisement on the top of the page stated, “Save the Truffula Valley game.”
Directions for the game stated that as players eliminated axes from the forest it would “bring you closer to saving Truffula Valley and treating yourself and the Lorax to a delicious Lorax’s breakfast at IHOP!”
The game’s closing screen displayed the player’s score and showed the Lorax character at an IHOP cashier station next to photos of IHOP Lorax-inspired breakfast menu options that could be purchased at IHOP.
CARU was concerned that the Lorax Game lacked adequate disclosures.
Upon receipt of CARU’s initial inquiry, IHOP stated that it did not believe the game was an advertisement, but would take CARU’s concerns into account in any future promotions. The company noted that the advertising campaign has ended, the game is no longer operation and would not be used again.”