DMA Finds That Sweepstakes Entrants Know the Rules

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The Direct Marketing Association, New York, countered criticism against sweepstakes marketers yesterday when it released the results of a sweepstakes poll it took during March 4-7 that found that 54 percent of 1,005 American households have entered a sweepstakes contest, and 95 percent of these entrants know that "no purchase is necessary."

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Corporation International, Princeton, NJ, as part of its weekly Caravan omnibus study, also found that 94 percent of Americans say that when a sweepstakes offer comes in the mail, they do not believe they are a prize-winner in that sweepstakes.

"Sweepstakes are enjoyed by millions and are not confusing to an overwhelming number of Americans," said Jerry Cerasale, senior vice president of government affairs at the DMA. "While we are concerned when even a few individuals respond with confusion to a sweepstakes offer, practically all those who enter such contests know that they are a fun, exciting way to enter and possibly win."

The DMA said the results counter criticisms of sweepstakes marketing and marketers launched by various state attorneys general and members of Congress, who have recently held public hearings on this issue.

"Consumers say they know the rules, are behaving as if they know the rules, and the industry is making every attempt to handle, in good faith, those few who appear to be exceptions," said. "We believe any new legislation or regulation should focus on a more serious matter: fraud that is perpetrated in the guise of legitimate sweepstakes."

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), for example, chairman of the permanent subcommittee on investigations, held a sweepstakes hearing in Washington on Monday and Tuesday in an effort to examine the nature and impact of sweepstakes run by major companies, and their aggressive and sometimes deceptive marketing techniques.

Testimony was heard from sweepstakes marketers, along with an attorney general, a representative form the American Association of Retired Persons, and a panel of sweepstakes victims.

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