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Pinterest issues new guidelines for sweepstakes and contests

December 3, 2012

Browse any social networking site these days and you’re likely to run into a banner exhorting consumers to “Pin It to Win It.” The request is typically linked to photo clusters of savory soups, designer handbags, or even surfers riding the waves. Welcome to the highly visual world of Pinterest, where you're definitely not alone. More and more businesses are selecting the site for their latest promotions.

For the uninitiated, Pinterest is an image-based social networking site that provides an easy-to-master avenue for you to collect and categorize your favorite items from around the web and share them with your friends. Pinterest describes itself as a “virtual pinboard,” and its many users are referred to as “Pinners.”

Pinterest was launched in 2009, and by 2012, had attracted more than 11 million users. Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for sponsors to flock to Pinterest (as they have with Facebook, Twitter and others) to host their sweepstakes and contests. A quick search found Pinterest contests sponsored by Kraft, Banana Republic, Albertson’s, Lord & Taylor and dozens of other companies. In fact, for all you meta-marketers out there, here is a Pinterest board of contests held on Pinterest.

To help sponsors create viable promotions, Pinterest recently issued new Marketing Guidelines that pertain to sweepstakes and contests. The guidelines contain tips for sponsors, including the following dos and don’ts:


  • Encourage authenticity: Reward the quality of pinning, not just the quantity of it.
  • Promote your contest: Link to your Pinterest account or contest board from your website, social media and marketing channels.
  • Prevent spam: Read up on our anti-spam measures to help keep your contest fun and useful.
  • Make getting involved easy: Create clear instructions and a simple process.


  • Encourage spam: Steer clear of contests that encourage spammy behavior, such as asking participants to comment repeatedly.
  • Run a sweepstakes where each pin, repin, or like represents an entry. Ask pinners to vote with a repin or like.
  • Overdo it: Contests and promotions can be effective, but you don’t want to run a contest too often.
  • Suggest that Pinterest sponsors or endorses you: Make sure you don’t say or imply this anywhere in your marketing materials or branding.

The guidelines also remind sponsors that they are responsible for complying with all federal and state legal requirements. This includes preparing the official rules, setting and enforcing eligibility requirements, and complying with state marketing regulations, including registration of sweepstakes in certain states.

Pinterest’s guidelines caution companies that many of these requirements vary from place to place. They also urge promotions sponsors to work with a lawyer to make sure they are in compliance.

Thompson Coburn’s Sweepstakes Law group has handled many Pinterest sweepstakes and contests. Let us know if you need our assistance.

This post was written by retired Thompson Coburn partner Dale Joerling. If you have any questions about the topics discussed in this post, please contact Thompson Coburn partner Hap Burke.