Advertising contests are in vogue for the simple reason that they are a strong B2C marketing strategy. In addition to allowing businesses to promote new products, contests reward consumers and create a positive feeling about the brand.
Organizing an advertising contest may look simple, but there are a whole slew of rules you must follow to be legit. In Quebec, the rules are different than in the rest of Canada because of a governing body called the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux.
We recently attended a very informative presentation given by lawyers from a large Montreal firm on the legal procedures to follow when setting up an advertising contest. To comply with the Régie, here are five points that caught our attention.
1. You must notify the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux of the contest
If the value of the prize offered in the advertising contest is $100 or less, you do not have to notify the Régie, but the organizer is still responsible for making sure the contest respects the law. If the value of the prize exceeds $100, you must submit the contest details to the Régie.
To do so, you must complete a detailed form and send it to the Régie by a certain deadline depending on the prize value. What’s more, at its sole discretion, the Régie reserves the right to request any other relevant document, including a copy of the contest rules. If the value of the prize exceeds $2,000, you must submit the contest rules to the Régie.
2. Fees are involved when the value of the prize exceeds $100
The fees depend on where your contest will be held.
- 10% of the prize value when the contest is open to contestants from Quebec only
- 3% of the prize value when the contest is open to contestants from Canada only, including contestants from Quebec
- 0.5% of the prize value when the contest is open to any other contestants, including contestants from Quebec
3. When the value of the prize exceeds $2,000, you must submit the contest rules
Note that, even if the value of the prize is less than $2,000, the Régie may still ask you to submit the contest rules.
The contest rules must be made available to the public and must at least include:
- The conditions for entering the contest
- Where the public can submit or send the contest entry forms
- The deadline (date and time) for entering the contest
- A description of the method used to award prizes
- How many prizes are being offered, along with a detailed description and the value of each prize
- The place, date, and precise time that the winner of the prize will be announced
- How the winners will be notified that they will be awarded a prize
- The place, date, and deadline for claiming prizes or, where applicable, whether the prizes will be delivered to the winners
- Mention that the winners will be selected by a jury, where applicable
- Mention that, in all cases, the persons specified in section 12 of the Rules respecting publicity contests (employees, for example) must be excluded from participating
- The following text: “Any litigation respecting the conduct or organization of a publicity contest may be submitted to the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux for a ruling. Any litigation respecting the awarding of a prize may be submitted to the board only for the purpose of helping the parties reach a settlement”
- The nature of the skill-testing requirement that a winner has to satisfy in order to claim their prize
4. After the contest, the contest organizer must do three things
- Notify the winner, within 30 days of naming the prize winner, as to how they can collect their prize
- In the event the value of the prize exceeds $2,000, file a written report indicating the contest winner with the Régie within 60 days of naming the prize winner
- Keep all entry forms, documents, and other vouchers that the Régie could use to confirm that the contest was carried out properly and hold them for 120 days following the announcement of the prize winner
5. Changes or cancellations
If you have to make changes to the contest rules, dates, etc., or in the event you must cancel the contest altogether, the contest organizer must:
- Immediately notify the Régie in writing. However, a publicity contest may in no event be cancelled or changed after it has been launched publicly unless the Régie so authorizes based on proof of an unforeseen circumstance or where it is proven that the public will not be adversely affected.
Contact us to find out how we can help you organize a contest that includes the Quebec market without all the hassle.