BBB National Programs Archive
CARU Recommends IMP Modify Advertising To Better Disclose Terms Of Promotion, Avoid Conveying Urgency
New York, NY – April 8, 2009 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that International Masters Publishers, Inc., modify print advertising to better disclose the terms of two promotions and to avoid suggesting that children must act immediately to obtain an extra bonus gift. The company has agreed to do so.
CARU, children’s advertising industry’s self-regulatory forum, examined magazine inserts for IMP’s “Wild Life Explorer” and “Weird n’ Wild Creatures collections.”
The May 2008 edition of National Geographic Kids (NGK) contained an advertisement for “Weird n’ Wild Creatures,” which offered free merchandise, including trading cards, a storage box and a glowing die. The word “free” appeared 22 times in the four page ads, in bold, colorful font. To receive the gifts, parents were directed to fill out and return a reply-mail card.
The June/July 2008 edition of National Geographic Kids contained an advertisement for a “Wild Life Explorer” free gift package, which included a free binder, free backpack, free explorer cards and free dividers. The word “free” appeared 18 times, in bold, colorful font. Again, to receive the gifts, parents were directed to fill out and return a reply-mail card.
Both offers were accompanied by parent-directed disclosures that set out terms and conditions. Neither offer was accompanied by a child-directed disclosure.
CARU questioned whether there were adequate disclosures to children regarding the material terms of the promotions and whether the advertisements induced a sense of urgency to participate, in contravention of CARU’s guidelines.
CARU recommended that the advertiser place the disclosures somewhere in the actual advertisement in close proximity to the offer of free merchandise, and that the disclosures appear in a conspicuous format.
CARU further determined that certain language used in the advertising suggested a sense of urgency and recommended the advertiser modify the language. The advertiser agreed to do so.
IMP, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “accepts CARU’s decision in its entirety and agrees to modify its advertising directed to children.”