Attorney General Press Release
January 25, 2005
Lansing--Attorney General Mike Cox, along with attorneys general from 18 other
states, announced today that an agreement has been reached with Newport Creative
Communications over misleading sweepstakes claims the company made in charity
"Using sweepstakes claims to solicit money from consumers is nothing new," Cox
said. "Any company making such claims, especially on behalf of a charity, must
be forthright and honest with consumers and avoid deceptive tactics. This
agreement will ensure that Newport’s future solicitations follow the rules."
Newport, a Massachusetts company, is a fundraising consultant for charities.
Solicitations developed by Newport for some of these charities often contain
sweepstakes promotions. The states alleged that those promotions were often
illegal and misleading, guaranteeing prizes or claiming that recipients had
already won a sweepstakes prize. The states also
alleged that, in
most cases, no prizes were ever awarded despite
these misleading claims. Examples of the language used include the following:
“YOU ARE OUR $6,000 WINNER. It's as simple as that,” and “Cash payment to be
confirmed for Mr. John Q. Sample upon reply by deadline.” Newport disputes
those claims, and admits no wrongdoing in the agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Newport’s direct-mail solicitations will no
longer claim that the recipient has already won a prize or will be guaranteed a
prize by responding to the charitable solicitation. Newport will also cease
creating mailings unless there is a prize ultimately awarded by the charity.
The company will be required to include inserts in its mailings
explicitly stating that the consumer has not already won a prize, and that
donating to the charity does not improve their chances for winning. Newport
will also pay $400,000 to the states.
In addition to Michigan, the states involved in the agreement include Arkansas,
California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey,
North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,
Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.