Last month, the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) referred claims by Dave & Busters Entertainment, Inc. to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). CARU’s initial inquiry involved Dave & Busters advertising that aired during children’s programming.  The ad started with large text that stated “Free Video Game Play”, and a voiceover said “Dave & Busters has free video game play weekdays this summer.  You can buy a power card for $50 and play video games for free all summer.”  A superscript appeared at the bottom of the screen informing viewers, in part, that the offer required purchase of a $50 power card and excluded certain games.

Despite the “free games” advertised, CARU took issue with the $50 power card purchase requirement and the exclusion of certain games from the otherwise unqualified offer. According to CARU, these conditions were not adequately disclosed to the child audience.

CARU subsequently referred the inquiry to the FTC after Dave & Busters declined to participate in the self-regulatory process.

Takeaway: When it comes to advertisements targeting children, advertisers should avoid relying on “fine print” to disclose material terms of an offer.