Tylenol Maker Settles with NY AG Over Sweeps

By Sep 15, 2004

The New York Attorney General last week settled with the maker of Tylenol, who has agreed to stop running advertisements that make it appear that a consumer must make a purchase in order to enter the company’s sweepstakes.

McNeil Consumer and Specialty Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, also agreed to pay $52,000 in civil penalties and costs.

McNeil ran a sweepstakes—Survivor All-Stars-Tylenol Push Through the Pain Game—promoted in newspaper and magazine ads that in “large, bold print” directed the reader to “Buy Tylenol” as the first step of the sweepstakes. The grand-prize was a trip to the season finale of the TV series Survivor, AG Eliot Spitzer said in a statement.

TV ads broadcast on CBS included a voice over that said: “For your chance to win, just buy any Tylenol product,” but failed to say that no purchase was necessary to enter the sweeps. The Caveat appeared in fine print at the bottom of print ads, the AG said.

Calls to McNeil were not returned.

About 84% of participants in the sweepstakes bought a Tylenol product, Spitzer said.

McNeil also agreed to make sure future ads do not imply that a purchase is necessary for consumers to enter a sweeps or that there is a greater chance of winning if a purchase is made.

In July, the state settled with CVS Corp. over allegations that it failed to provide an in-store method for entering sweepstakes for customers that did not make a purchase. CVS also agreed to pay $77,000 in civil penalties and costs. And, in May, A&P agreed to settle allegations that if failed to provide sweepstakes entry procedures for customers who did not make a purchase at its stores.

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