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BYU Caught Red Handed Promoting a Lottery

Don - November 12, 2005

I wouldn’t have believed it but I saw it with my own two eyes. I was checking the ad proofs for my theater in BYU’s Daily Universe and there it was, a quarter page ad promoting a lottery at the BYU Bookstore.

The ad reads "We make buying gas BEARable", win $100 Gas Card, Polar Bears, 20 oz. Coke. Have your coke Card stamped…receive a free 20oz drink and enter your card to win! Drawings held every Monday, starting November 7, and ending December 13.

If I understand a lottery, it requires me to purchase something for the chance of getting something more valuable in return. This is a plain and clear lottery to me. It requires me to purchase 9 Coke products, I then get a free 20 oz. drink (not a lottery, just a nice freebie) but then after I’ve made these 9 purchases I enter my card to a chance to win a Polar Bear or a $100 gas card.

Ok, I understand Coke is behind this, putting up prized, but still is it right for BYU to promote it? It seems to me, considering the church’s POLICY against us participating in lotteries, or any type of gambling that this is a bit hypocritical.

Plus I just like being picky about these kinds of things!


  1. I’m in advertising so I’ll take a crack at this. If a company calls me and asks that I advertise their product, promotion, etc., I feel obligated to offer my service-I don’t feel as though I can refuse it based upon my personal feelings. If BYU went out of its way to contact them and ask to be put in the paper-that’s a little different.

    I also don’t really see any problem with this promotion. You are getting a Coke in return so you can’t really lose anything can you? Maybe the bigger issue id that BYU is endorsing Coca-Cola.

    Comment by Tim J. — November 12, 2005 @ 6:53 pm

  2. If you really want to get nit picky here, get on those that grow and sell hops to Budwieser or work in the casinos here in Vegas. Or just don’t worry about it>:)

    Comment by Bret — November 13, 2005 @ 12:22 am

  3. I think I’ll have to go with Tim on this one. It’s not really a lottery because you are buying a product, not a chance to win. The chance to win is just a bonus.

    Comment by NFlanders — November 13, 2005 @ 3:06 am

  4. Tim, I send ads to the Daily Universe every week for my theater. They refuse to run any ad for any rate “R” movie. Why support a coke lottery and not allow me to advertise all my movies. (I’ve only had about 3 rated “R” movies in the 2 years we’ve been open)

    Comment by don — November 13, 2005 @ 8:01 pm

  5. Ned, so if you purchase something that then enters you in a lottery then it’s ok to play that lottery? How much value does the item have to have to make it ok?

    Here’s my new lottery: buy a Book of Mormon (very valuable) for $5 (good price for a book) and I’ll enter you in a lottery for $100.

    Maybe our Ward should sponsor this as a Scout Fund raiser.

    Comment by don — November 13, 2005 @ 8:07 pm

  6. Don,

    I understand your point, but does this mean we should avoid buying products that enter you into a drawing, thus making it a lottery? Should I go to BK instead of McD’s when they’re running the Monopoly game? Their are hundreds of other examples and it’s all just about another way of marketing their product.

    BTW, just in case you didn’t, you may need to read the disclaimer. It is almost illegal in all states to require you to purchase something in order to be entered into a drawing. Thus with most promotions you can send a postcard to an address for free and enter the drawing that way.

    Comment by Tim J. — November 13, 2005 @ 10:35 pm

  7. “They refuse to run any ad for any rated “R” movie.”

    I think this makes your frustration in the original post much more understandable. I don’t blame you for being picky… They sure seem to be!

    Comment by Bob Caswell — November 14, 2005 @ 11:45 am

  8. Tim, if I take your point then it’s ok to enter a lottery if it’s free? Just fill out a postcard for every lottery and play the lottery that way.

    “It’s all just about another way of marketing their product”. So my Book of Mormon sale/lottery example is perfectly ok?

    Comment by don — November 14, 2005 @ 1:13 pm

  9. I don’t have a firm opinion on this, but I have a thought, so let’s see where it goes. =)

    If I buy a Coke and it has potential prizes under the cap, am I participating in a “lottery”? Possibly (I looked it up.) Am I gambling? Not really, unless I purchased the product specifically with the hopes of winning, not intending to drink it. Since you get something when you make your purchase (the Coke), then the lottery aspect isn’t really gambling. When you buy a lottery ticket, you don’t really have anything, except a worthless piece of paper. (Unless it wins, in which case you _get_ calls by everyone you’ve ever met and a few you haven’t.)

    If you can enter a lottery for free, then it’s a sweepstakes. Is that prohibited by the church? (Is something for nothing gambling? Merriam-Webster says betting on an uncertain outcome is.)

    Don, I think if you renamed your BoM lottery to “raffle”, you wouldn’t have any problems. =)

    Now, what I’d like to hear a debate on is Bingo/Bunko playing in church…

    Comment by FaithHopeLove — November 14, 2005 @ 1:53 pm

  10. “It’s ok to enter a lottery if it’s free?”

    I have no problem with that. You’ve never entered a drawing at the mall for a free car or vaction, etc.? I don’t see how this is gambling–How do you lose?

    Your BOM example is intersting-try it and see. I know I’ve had scouts run a drawing /raffle before and it raised a lot of money.

    Comment by Tim J. — November 14, 2005 @ 1:59 pm

  11. I’ve seen news reports about a woman who enters every one she runs across, whether it be a form to mail on the side of a package, or a tear off sheet on a product display, or what-have-you. She spends about $2500/year on postage. She does get alot of junk mail, though, and I’d assume some telemarketing calls (as companies you are doing “business” with can still call you even if you are on Do Not Call list).

    She apparently wins a variety of trips every year, as well as other things.

    But GEEZ the effort it’d take to do all these things. She does come out rather ahead, but it’d take alot of work. Lol.

    Comment by Sarebear — November 16, 2005 @ 1:35 am

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