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No advertising on social media platforms with reviews generated via sweepstakes!

“Advertising with ratings on social media platforms that are given in return for participation in a sweepstakes is unfair. It can be assumed that a sweepstake offer will generate a significant number of reviews. The Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main (OLG) therefore prohibited the advertising of the defendant whirlpool seller in a judgment published today,” ruled the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main!

Both parties in the lawsuit commercially sell hot tubs. The defendant offered a prize draw for a luxury whirlpool via Facebook. The text said

“How you can win? Simple: like, comment, share this post; like or rate our page. Every action gets you a raffle ticket and increases your chance to win.”

The plaintiff, on the other hand, considers it anticompetitive for the defendant to advertise ratings that were submitted in this manner in exchange for participation in a sweepstakes. The Regional Court also saw it that way and ordered the defendant to refrain from advertising with ratings if these ratings were influenced by enabling participation in the sweepstakes in return for submitting a rating.

As in the previous summary proceedings(see this post), the appeal against this decision was unsuccessful before the Higher Regional Court. The OLG ruled that advertising with the ratings in question here was misleading and thus unfair. In principle, statements by third parties in advertising have an objective effect and are therefore generally valued more highly than the advertiser’s own statements. Therefore, advertising with paid recommendations is inadmissible. A customer who makes a recommendation must be free and independent in his judgment.

Here, the defendant advertises with its Facebook ratings and the good average score achieved there. However, some of the assessments had not been made freely and independently. Rather, it is to be assumed that a not inconsiderable proportion of the ratings were only submitted because the rating was “rewarded” by participation in the competition. “It is obvious that the evaluation on the occasion of the lottery is rather positive. This does not constitute a “paid” recommendation in the literal sense of the word. Nevertheless, the evaluations are not to be regarded as objective,” the OLG states.

In this context, it was also not important for the plaintiff to provide concrete evidence of which evaluations were prompted by the lottery. “It is namely obvious without further ado that a considerable number of evaluations was generated by the sweepstake offer,” reasons the OLG.

The judgment is not final. The defendant may seek permission to appeal to the Federal Court of Justice by filing a complaint against non-admission.

By the way, you can find a few more tips about sweepstakes in this article.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.

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