BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Recommends Nickelodeon Modify Broadcast Advertising to Better Disclose Odds of Winning ‘SpongeBob’ Sweepstakes

New York, NY – May 23, 2013 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Nickelodeon modify broadcast advertising for a “SpongeBob” Splashpants Sweepstakes to better disclose the odds of winning.

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

Television advertising for the SpongeBob Splashpants Sweepstakes, marketed by Nickelodeon, came to CARU’s attention through its routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.

The commercial, which aired during children’s programming, directed children to a sweepstakes website where they would see a sign for the “SpongeBob SplashPants Sweepstakes.”

Below the sign was a video of the commercial for the limited edition SpongeBob Pirate’s Booty snacks, with descriptions of the sweepstakes prizes, as follows:
“1 Grand Prize: Set sail from New York on Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, for an action-packed vacation with Nickelodeon and SpongeBob. Dive into the SpongeBob-themed water area and dine with your favorite yellow sponge at the Pajama Jam Breakfast.

First Prize: 50 first-prize winners will win one DVD from the SpongeBob Squarepants Super Square Collection!”

CARU questioned whether the odds of winning were clearly disclosed during the commercial or on the website and recommended that the company modify the advertising to
include an audio voiceover in the commercial as well as a visual disclosure on its website, which will explicitly state the odds of winning.

Nickelodeon, in response to CARU’s concerns, said that it accepted CARU’s decision and has stopped airing the spot.  “Moving forward, Nickelodeon will ensure that sweepstakes promotions include the odds of winning in prominent and clear ways,” the company said.