In November 2011, it was widely reported that the New York Attorney General (the “NY AG”) had opened an investigation into the cause-related marketing efforts of “pink ribbon” charities. As part of its examination, the NY AG sent comprehensive questionnaires to at least 40 charities and 130 companies asking for detailed information specific to activities in which the sale of a product or service is advertised to benefit a charitable cause. Venable has since obtained a redacted copy of a typical questionnaire sent to companies involved in cause-related marketing related to breast cancer. These efforts are also referred to as commercial co-ventures under New York law.
A review of the questions (redacted questionnaire available here) asked by the NY AG provides a framework for many of the issues that any charity or marketer should consider prior to entering into a cause-related marketing campaign and can help prepare a marketer or charity to respond to similar inquiry by a state regulator.
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