It occurred to me recently that the application of “house” rules to sleepover guests is a pretty good metaphor for thinking about the legality of corporations sponsoring global promotions.
Most families have established rules for how they manage their household. For example, bedtime for young children. If my daughters are not in bed by 8:30 PM and reading or doing a quiet activity, they will not be asleep by 9:00 PM, which in turn produces a host of negative consequences for the next school or weekend day. We’ve lived through the consequences, so the rules are pretty inflexible and fairly well accepted by my daughters – after all, it’s for their own good (from our parental perspective).
However, though my mom - the “free” babysitter - is aware of “house” rules surrounding bedtime (and a corollary rule – no sugar treats after 8:00 PM), she seems to be more susceptible to despairing pleas of “just a few more minutes!” or “just one more snicker doodle!”. Examples:
- At the witching hour of 8:30 PM during a recent triple-header sleepover on a Saturday, there was violent protest from all three guests (to which chorus my daughters’ voices were quickly added) that bedtime on weekends is later in their households, and that as they saw it, sleepovers are special occasions warranting exception to house rules -- they were only 2/3 through "Barbie Charm School" after all... and appeared to have recently eaten several dozen Starburst candies.
- We allowed our youngest to participate in a science museum sleepover event this spring, and it was reported that she finally crawled into her sleeping bag at @ 3:00 AM somewhere near the pterodactyl display and after a few hours of sleep, needed to be up and ready for pick up at 7:00 AM sharp (by my mom who lives in St. Paul – there’s some justice in this world) before the museum opened at 8:00 AM for public visitation.
It can be tough to assert "house” rules when you are not at home and/or when alternate “rulemakers” are on watch.
Getting back to global promotions: Clients are increasingly interested in conducting a promotion (perhaps a sweepstakes or contest) across a range of global regions and/or countries where a client may be conducting business or seeking prospective customers. The reach and connectivity offered by the Internet and platforms like Facebook provide an extremely cost-effective way to communicate and engage. In contrast, individual countries have a wide variety of laws and approaches to marketing programming – for example chance promotions which, across the globe, include outright prohibition, moderate to intense regulatory approval processes and general allowance with limited administration.
If you invite non-resident sweepstakes participants “over for a sleepover” to your home country where via the Internet they enter and engage on your home computer servers or on a US-based platform like Facebook, it seems like US house rules should apply (especially where participants agree that US laws govern the promotion). But home state parents of foreign participants still have rights and can call the “US parents” and ask why their citizens are participating in activities that are explicitly banned at home and, in the absence of a prior inter-parental agreement (treaty), relationships can go south and there may be consequences to a promotion sponsor in the foreign state (where they may have holdings/conduct business operations). So it’s not as simple as extending your rules to participants from other households by inviting them over for a sleepover.
The reality is that until an international treaty or other mechanism provides a more universal method for conducting multi-country promotions, individual country rules must be respected and incorporated early in the planning process in order to promote respectful and sustaining relationships between promoters and targeted foreign households. By doing your homework on what other households expect, you can tailor and customize your marketing activities appropriately - and get a good night’s sleep.