BBB National Programs Archive
CARU Recommends Subway Better Disclose Material Information in Advertising Sweepstakes to Children; Company Agrees to Do So
New York, NY – Nov. 30, 2017 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit has recommended that Subway, when advertising sweepstakes to children, more clearly disclose material information and avoid undue sales pressure.
CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. CARU monitors advertising to children in all media for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including guidelines on sweepstakes and promotions. CARU is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.
The advertising at issue in CARU’s inquiry, a 30-second commercial for Subway’s Fresh Fit for Kid’s Meal, aired during children’s programming. The commercial featured “Mr. Men” and “Little Miss” toy premiums advertised as “Character Keepers. ” The commercial explained that sweepstakes participants could win an Amazon Fire Kids Edition Tablet by collecting five specific Character Keepers from among the 32 Character Keepers produced as Subway premiums.
The commercial contained no audio disclosures regarding the free means of entry, the likelihood of winning the Tablet or the need to be 18 years of age or older to enter the sweepstakes. The official rules of the sweepstakes were available at the Subway website.
Upon initial review, CARU questioned:
- Whether children watching the referenced commercial would believe that they could enter the promotion themselves
- Whether the commercial adequately disclosed the free means of entry
- Whether the use of the language in the commercial, “Hurry in… otherwise you’ll miss out,” could create undue sales pressure
- Whether the commercial adequately disclosed the odds of winning the Amazon Kindle Fire Kids Edition
The advertiser contended that the commercial clearly featured an adult with a school-age child and reinforced the responsible message that a parent should be involved in all aspects of the child’s interaction with the purchase process and the promotion.
However, after reviewing the commercial and all evidence in the record, CARU determined the commercial did not adequately communicate the material fact that the promotion was only open to entrants age 18 years and older and recommended that the advertiser use suitable language to convey that fact to children in an audio message.
CARU found that the commercial did not adequately disclose the free means of entry as required by the guidelines and recommended that in future ads an audio disclosure of the free means of entry be used.
CARU found that the language “Hurry in to Subway … otherwise you’ll miss out,” could create undue sales pressure and recommended that this language not be used in future advertisements.
Finally, CARU determined that the commercial did not adequately disclose the odds of winning the Tablet and recommended that in future ads suitable audible language, understandable to the child audience, be used.
Subway, in its advertiser’s statement, said the company “fully supports the efforts of CARU to ensure appropriate advertising to children, and we make every effort to ensure that our advertising conforms to the CARU guidelines. Subway agrees to take CARU’s recommendations into account in future advertising.”