|Although sweepstakes are a time-honored, highly effective means to promote a company, product or service, anyone who has conducted one can attest to the many legal, technical and operational difficulties they can entail. In a few rare instances, sweepstakes that are poorly conceived or improperly conducted can lead to disastrous consequences, a fact which a company called Artesian Builds recently learned the hard way.
Artesian Builds assembled customized computers and related products for gamers and streamers on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch, and like many companies operating in that space it employed gamers as “brand ambassadors” to help promote its products, offering them opportunities to earn credits toward future purchases and chances to win computers during monthly sweepstakes.
On March 1, 2022, Artesian held a live-streamed event to select the winner of its most recent monthly sweepstakes, during which CEO Noah Katz apparently elected to arbitrarily change the rules governing winner selection. After randomly choosing a winning entry, Katz publicly discarded it because, according to him, the selected winner did not have a sufficient number of social media followers. During the same live-streamed event, Katz then went on to disqualify other randomly-selected winners for being “too small.”
Unsurprisingly, this did not sit well with the entrants watching the live-streamed event, several of whom expressed their ire on Twitter. These tweets and related social media posts garnered considerable attention in the gaming community, quickly resulting in a cascade of outrage and furious anger that eventually drew the attention of Intel, the sweepstakes sponsor, which issued the following tweet: “We strive towards welcoming streamers of all sizes to our programs and do not agree with recent negative comments directed toward small streamers.”
One week after this debacle, Artesian Builds abruptly announced it was “freezing/suspending all activities.” While the company did not expressly state that it was closing its doors due to the prior week’s sweepstakes snafu, it is hard to believe that it didn’t factor into the decision in some manner.
This incident demonstrates the vital importance of having clear, written rules governing all aspects of a sweepstakes, and how critical it is to abide by them. And, even if your sweepstakes rules include a provision allowing you to change them as you see fit, changing an element as important as the criteria for winning a prize after a promotion has launched is a never a good idea, and doing so during a live-streamed event being watched by hundreds of rabid gamers is an even worse one.
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