CARU Recommends International Masters Publishers Modify Advertising for ‘Wildlife Explorer’ Kit

New York, NY – March 13, 2013 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit recommended International Masters Publishers, Inc., modify advertising for its “Wildlife Explorer” kit to better disclose the material terms of its offer. The company has agreed to do so.

CARU is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation. It is administered by the Council of Better Business Bureaus.

The advertising at issue came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring of advertising directed to children.

In this case, CARU had to determine whether the advertiser clearly disclosed the material terms of a free offer. An insert in National Geographic Kids Magazine advertised a “special offer” of 36 wildlife cards, and an adventure kit with binoculars a flashlight, and a compass.

  • The front of the insert invited one to complete a “scratch off” to find out whether he or she would receive a gift package “worth $86.75.”
  • The interior of the insert further urged, “scratch off the silver circle … if you have a white tiger, you can get all this free! Pay just $3.47 for shipping and handling.”
  • The back of the insert stated again, “You can get all this free! Just pay $3.47 for shipping and handling.”

To receive the gift package, adults must fill out a card to enroll in Wildlife Explorer. The card stated that enrollees would receive 12 additional wildlife cards every three weeks at a cost of $8.95, plus $1.25 postage and handling. The insert only disclosed the full terms of the promotion on the mail-in cards, which were to be returned by a parent. The terms were not communicated to the child anywhere else on the card.

Following its initial review, CARU determined that a child would not understand that in order to receive the gift, an adult would have to enroll in Wildlife Explorer and agree to accept additional shipments every three weeks.

CARU recommended that the advertiser make this fact clearer to children. Upon CARU’s recommendations, the advertiser agreed to modify the language of the insert to more clearly disclose that it is necessary for adults to sign up for Wildlife Explorer in order for the child to receive a gift.
In its advertiser’s statement, International Masters Publishers said it “accepts CARU’s decision and agrees to modify its advertising directed to children … .”