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Do You Need to Alter Your Promotions Because of COVID?

The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted (and continues to touch) businesses in unprecedented ways. While looking forward to our post pandemic future, it’s critical that brands are sensitive to how to market in re-emergence, the changed environment, and what type of consumer engagement and brand loyalty will develop. Companies need to consistently assess their marketing initiatives and pivot in appropriate ways to ensure that consumers are supported, acknowledged, and rewarded; as always, it’s imperative to do so legally.

Many marketing programs were re-evaluated and adapted over the past few months. Decisions to modify or cancel live campaigns that include games of chance, such as a sweepstakes, carry legal and business risk that must be weighed as these decisions are made. When making changes, marketers will want to ensure that all business teams are aware of potential risks under applicable law. Fundamental legal requirements have not been relaxed, so as businesses move into re-engagement with their audiences and start to broaden their program reach, it is as important to remain on top of your compliance program.

Factors that should go into evaluating your promotional marketing programs include:  

  • Promotions have specified start and end dates and may also offer prizes. Chance-to-win programs are subject to applicable law, may be registered with NY and FL, and are subject to obligations to award all prizes as initially launched. Some of those prizing elements may have been altered because of the pandemic restrictions.
  • Consider whether or not consumers have registered, played, or otherwise engaged with the program both before and during the pandemic. If there are perceptions of unfairness between consumers based on the time of their engagement, there may be complaints to customer service, criticism on social media, or even legal claims.
  • Advertising may have been in market under different phases of social restrictions. You must be confident that your marketing communications and program directions effectively and clearly describe changes to consumers. 
  • Other considerations include prize and reward choices and flexibility, ongoing supply chain concerns (whether operational or due to financial distress), event-linked promotions that have been canceled or changed for social distancing, and whether the specified method for consumer participation continues to be impacted by public restrictions, such as in-store engagements.

Consumers have been seeking trusted brands that are engaged in above-board marketing programs during these last few months. This behavior will continue through re-emergence and beyond. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, bad actors have gone to the market with spam misinformation, fake treatments, and other efforts to take advantage of vulnerable consumers. Fair, timely, and engaging marketing programs from trusted brands are needed in the market and will be sought by longtime customers. Thoughtful planning will ensure your programs instill trust and develop brand good will.

Want to learn more? Check out our other promotions and loyalty blogs here.

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