Publishers Clearing House was founded in 1953 by Harold Mertz to replace door-to-door magazine subscription sales by a single vendor offering multiple subscriptions by mail. It introduced its sweepstakes in 1967. In the early 1990s, the company was the subject of concerns and legal actions regarding whether consumers were misled about their odds of winning the sweepstakes and whether purchases increased their chances. By 2010, the company had reached settlements with all 50 states.
|Publishers Clearing Houses|
|Headquarters||Jericho, New York, United States|
|Robin B. Smith
Andrew Goldberg (president and CEO)
|Revenue||$840.6 million (2013)|
Number of employees
Publishers Clearing House was founded in 1953 in Port Washington, New York, by Harold Mertz, a former manager of a door-to-door sales team for magazine subscriptions. The company started in Mertz's basement with help from his wife LuEsther and daughter Joyce. Its first mailings were of 10,000 envelopes from Mertz's home in Long Island, New York, and offered 20 magazine subscriptions. 100 orders were received. Within a few years the company moved out of Mertz's basement into an office building and started hiring staff. When PCH moved its headquarters in 1969, its prior location was donated to the city and renamed the Harold E. Mertz community center. The company revenue had grown to US$50 million by 1981, and $100 million by 1988.
In 1967 PCH started its first sweepstakes as a way to increase subscription sales, based on the sweepstakes held by Reader's Digest. The first prizes ranged from 25 cents to $10 and entrants had a 1 in 10 chance of winning. After the sweepstakes increased response rates to mailings, prizes of $5,000 and eventually $250,000 were offered. PCH began advertising the sweepstakes on TV in 1974. It was the only major multi-magazine subscription business until 1977. Former client Time Inc. and several other publishers formed American Family Publishers (AFP) to compete with PCH after the company refused repeated requests by Time for a larger share of sales revenue from magazine subscriptions.
AFP and PCH competed for exclusive rights to magazines and for the better promotion and prize ideas. When AFP increased their jackpot to $1 million, then to $10 million in 1985, PCH raised its prizes to match. $7 million in prizes were distributed by 1979, $40 million by 1991 and $137 million by 2000. In 1989 two members of its advertising team, Dave Sayer and Todd Sloane, started the Prize Patrol, a publicized event where winners are surprised with a check at their home. The idea was inspired by the 1950s television series The Millionaire.
In 1992 thousands of discarded sweepstakes entries from contestants who had not bought magazine subscriptions were found in the trash by city employees, reinforcing beliefs that the company favored those who made purchases in selecting a sweepstakes winner. PCH said this was done by a disgruntled employee at their mail processing vendor. A class action ensued, which PCH settled by giving discarded entrants a second chance to win.
In the 1990s PCH and its primary competitor, AFP, experienced a series of legal troubles due to concerns that their mailings misled consumers about their odds of winning and implied that magazine purchases increased their chances. This led to the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act of 2000, which regulates direct mail businesses. At the senate hearings regarding this Act, PCH said most consumers were not confused about their chances of winning or that purchases did not increase their chances. The company said less than five percent of participants spend more than $300. Government officials from California said 5,000 local consumers paid more than $2,500 each in magazine purchases under the false belief that they were increasing their odds of winning the sweepstakes.
Industry sources estimated PCH's response rates decreased by 7-12 percent and its sales volume by 22 to 30 percent in response to the bad publicity from the lawsuits. In 2000, PCH laid off a quarter of its 800-person work force.
In 1994 PCH sent mailings telling recipients they were all "finalists", which led to a lawsuit involving the attorneys general of 14 US states. Later that year, PCH denied wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a settlement of $490,000 and to change their practices. Under the agreement, PCH said it would define terms like "finalist" and disclose the chances of winning.
In 1997, a contestant of competitor AFP flew to Tampa, Florida, thinking he had won, though he had not. The resulting publicity caused more lawsuits for both companies. PCH reached a $30 million national settlement in 1999. In 2000, another $18 million settlement was reached with 24 states, after the company sent mass mailings that said "You are a winner!" and used mock personalized checks. PCH agreed to avoid similar mailings in the future, and add a "sweepstakes fact box" to mailings.
State attorneys spoke out against the national settlement from 2000 and additional lawsuits were filed by individual states. Another $34 million settlement was reached in 2001 in a lawsuit involving 25 states, bringing the total settlements since 1999 to $82 million. As part of the settlement, PCH was required to avoid terms like "Guaranteed Winner," add disclaimers to mailings saying that the recipient has not won and that purchasing merchandise won't increase their chances. PCH reached settlements with all fifty states and agreed to work with a "compliance counsel." PCH apologized in the settlement and said it would contact customers who had spent more than $1,000 on merchandise the prior year.
PCH also reached an agreement with Iowa in 2007. In 2010 the company paid $3.5 million to the Attorneys General of 32 states and the District of Columbia to settle possible contempt charges that it had violated the terms of the 2001 agreement. The company denied wrongdoing, but agreed to work with both an ombudsman and a compliance counsel who would review its mailings quarterly.
In April 2014, an investigation by the Senate Special Committee on Aging concluded that PCH had "pushed the limits" of prior agreements and that additional legislation may be needed.
PCH began selling merchandise in 1985 with two products. After a Hershey's Chocolate Cookbook and a diet cookbook sold more than other products, the company began expanding into jewelry, media, collectibles, household products and others. The company also shifted its focus online. It began selling magazine subscriptions and merchandise on PCH.com in 1996. In 2006, it acquired Blingo Inc., an ad-supported metasearch engine that was later re-branded as PCH Search and Win. PCH ran contests on Twitter, Facebook, and Myspace. iPhone apps for slot games and trivia were developed. The company created online play-and-win sites like PCH Games (formerly Candystand) and PCHQuiz4Cash, with air-hockey and video poker games.
In December 2010, PCH acquired Funtank and its online gaming site Candystand.com. In 2011, PCH promoted a "$5,000 every week for life" sweepstakes in TV ads and the front page of AOL.com. The following year the company acquired a mobile marketing company, Liquid Wireless. The company utilized, then stopped then started again utilizing coregistration (through other websites) to expand its customer base.
In 2008, a PCH spokesperson said the digital properties were intended to attract younger consumers. By 2013, the internet had become PCH's primary channel of interaction with consumers. The New York Times described the digital transition as "part of an overall effort to collect information on Web users, show them advertisements and use the registration information for PCH’s mailing lists."
PCH is a direct-marketing company that sells merchandise, magazine subscriptions and operates several prize-based websites. While best known for the sweepstakes and Prize Patrol it uses to promote its magazine subscriptions, the majority of the company's revenue now comes from merchandise. The company has been selling books, media, jewelry and other consumer items since the 1980s. PCH operates eight websites, including PCH Search and Win, PCH Lotto, PCH Games, PCH Save and Win, and Candystand.
The company also sells magazine subscriptions at a discount and advertises subscriptions along with its sweepstakes. It's estimated that companies like PCH keep 75-90 percent of the fees from the original subscription, while publishers use the increased distribution to improve circulation numbers and revenue from renewals. PCH popularized the idea of using sweepstakes to sell magazine subscriptions in the direct-marketing market and became known by detractors as a producer of junk-mail for advertising through mass-mailings. Documents filed with the New York State Department in 1993 said that year the company mailed 220 million envelopes. Frequent buyers can receive 30-40 mailings a year.
Although PCH advertises its sweepstakes along with magazine subscriptions, no purchase is necessary to enter or win. In 1995, PCH began the tradition of announcing winners of its $10 million prize just after the Super Bowl. As of 2012, $225 million in prizes have been distributed. Some of its larger prizes are for $5,000 a week for life, or $10 million. Prizes can also range from $1 Amazon gift cards to $2,500, $1 million or $3 million. The larger cash prizes are paid in installments, typically with a balloon payment at 30 years, reducing the present value of prizes to much less than their nominal values.
According to the official rules, as of 2018, the odds of winning “$7000 a Week for Life” in Giveaway are 1 in 6.2 billion. The odds of winning a PCH sweepstakes vary depending on the number of entries and what prize or sweepstakes is involved. Smaller prizes have better odds that may vary from one in 223 to one in 80,000, depending on the prize.
The Prize Patrol surprises sweepstakes winners at their homes, work or other locations with cash prizes and captures the event on video. Since their introduction in 1989, these reality TV-style videos of prize-winners surprised at their doorstep with checks for $1,000 to $10 million have been used in widely broadcast television commercials, and, more recently, in the company's online acquisition efforts, websites and social media communications. In 2013, a $5 million television campaign modified the traditional prize patrol commercial by digitally altering video from classic sitcoms like The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island to show the prize patrol visiting characters in the show.
The Prize Patrol has made in-person appearances or delivered prizes on TV programs such as The Oprah Winfrey Show and The Price Is Right. Their surprise winning moments have been spoofed by Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and the cast of Saturday Night Live; woven into the plots of movies such as Let's Go to Prison, The Sentinel and Knight and Day; and the subject of cartoons.
Alex MacDougall is an American record producer, and percussionist. MacDougall is best known for being a member of the Christian rock band Daniel Amos in the late-1970s in addition to his production and recording session credits. He was also a member of Selah, The Way, Salvation Air Force, The Richie Furay Band, The Randy Stonehill Band and The Larry Norman Band.American Bell Association International
The American Bell Association International, Inc. is a nonprofit organization devoted to the collection, preservation, restoration, and research of bells in which members can attend regional chapter events and an annual national convention. Forty three U.S. chapters and an additional five international chapters are recognized by the American Bell Association International; global membership is 1,200 persons. The organization is often referred to as the ABA; it is one of over 100 names that applies this acronym.American Family Publishers
American Family Publishers was an American company that sold magazine subscriptions. Since its founding in 1977, American Family Publishers (AFP) has been one of America's leading marketers of magazine subscriptions. AFP is jointly owned by TAF Holdings, Inc. (a subsidiary of Time Inc.) and a group of private investors. It is best known for running sweepstakes in which a large amount of money was offered as the grand prize (in a range of several hundred thousand to one or more million dollars). The winner was chosen at random, by a professional auditing company, from among all who responded to the sweepstakes, regardless of whether a magazine subscription was purchased.Demented World
Demented World was a comedy CD put out by Gregg Hughes and Anthony Cumia that features bits from their Opie and Anthony radio show. The CD was a compilation of various popular bits that had previously aired on their WAAF show.
The CD after being released made it to Billboard's Heatseeker Album Chart, at 47.A portion of all the CD's sales went to The New England Shelter For Homeless Veterans.Opie and Anthony, despite starring in all of the bits received no money from the project.Ed McMahon
Edward Leo Peter McMahon Jr. (March 6, 1923 – June 23, 2009) was an American announcer, game show host, comedian, actor and singer. McMahon and Johnny Carson began their association in their first TV series, the ABC game show Who Do You Trust?, running from 1957 to 1962. Then afterwards, McMahon would make his famous thirty-year mark as Carson's sidekick, announcer and second banana on NBC's The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson from 1962 to 1992.
He also hosted the original Star Search from 1983 to 1995, co-hosted TV's Bloopers & Practical Jokes with Dick Clark from 1982 to 1998 and also presented sweepstakes for the direct marketing company American Family Publishers (not, as is commonly believed, its main rival Publishers Clearing House). McMahon annually co-hosted the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon from 1973 to 2008. In the 1970s and 80s, he anchored the team of NBC personalities conducting the network's coverage of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
McMahon appeared in several films, including The Incident, Fun With Dick and Jane, Full Moon High and Butterfly, as well as briefly in the film version of Bewitched. He also performed in numerous television commercials. According to Entertainment Weekly, McMahon is considered one of the greatest "sidekicks".Jericho, New York
Jericho is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in Nassau County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island, about 29 miles (47 km) east of Midtown Manhattan.
Its population was 13,567 as of the United States 2010 Census. The area is served by the Jericho Union Free School District and the Syosset Central School District, the boundaries of which differ somewhat from those of the hamlet. The boundaries of the Jericho Post Office vary from both the hamlet and the school district boundaries, notably by including a portion of Jericho in the Westbury zip code, and the inclusion of a portion of Syosset in the Jericho zip code.Joyce Theater
The Joyce Theater (The Joyce") is a 472-seat dance performance venue located in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York City. The building opened in 1941 as the Elgin Theater, a movie house, and was gut-renovated and reconfigured in 1981-82 to reopen as the Joyce Theater. The Joyce is a leading presenter of dance in New York City and nationally.List of Rugrats characters
Rugrats includes a large array of characters: family, friends, extended relatives, townspeople, and fictional characters. This is a list of characters from the Nickelodeon animated television series.Lottery!
Lottery! is an American drama series that premiered on ABC on September 9, 1983. The series aired for one season of 17 episodes and starred Ben Murphy as Patrick Sean Flaherty, and Marshall Colt as Eric Rush. Lottery! centered on ordinary people who have won the lottery—all of a sudden becoming millionaires—and how it changes their lives.LuEsther Mertz
LuEsther Turner Mertz (December 30, 1905, Cincinnati, Ohio – February 5, 1991, Port Washington, New York) was a businesswoman and philanthropist. She was the youngest child of a Methodist minister and his wife and trained as a librarian at Syracuse University.
In 1953, LuEsther and her husband, Harold Mertz, along with their daughter, Joyce, founded Publishers Clearing House. Over the years, Publishers Clearing House grew from an initial mailing of 10,000 letters to a marketing legend. Mrs. Mertz was active in the company's management, serving as a member of its executive committee until her death in 1991.
In 1962 she founded Choice Magazine Listening, an audio anthology of magazine writing for the visually impaired. She believed that visually impaired people and those with disabilities that prevented them from reading standard print should have access to the same magazine writing as sighted people. She established the nonprofit Lucerna Fund to support the efforts of Choice Magazine Listening. She went on to become a major supporter of Lincoln Center, Central Park Conservancy, New York City Ballet, New York Shakespeare Festival, Joyce Theater Foundation, New York Botanical Garden, the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, Joseph Papp's Public Theater, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
In her own town she served as a trustee of the Port Washington Public Library and was a founding member of the Port Washington League of Women Voters. LuEsther Mertz was awarded the Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture in 1983 and the New York State Governor's Arts Award in 1986. In 1980, Dennis Murphy and Paul Ehrlich of the Center for Conservation Biology named a subspecies of the Edith's checkerspot butterfly, Euphydryas editha luestherae, in her honor.Since her death in 1991, aged 85, the LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust has contributed to core programs at the New York Botanical Garden in horticulture, science, and visitor services, as well as to the construction of the Garden Cafe and Terrace Room, an important visitor amenity that opened in 1997. The LuEsther T. Mertz Library is named after her. The trust also donates annually to 13 other named beneficiaries.Massage for Relaxation
Massage For Relaxation is a 1985 instructional video and was among the first on how to massage another person. Produced by Mark Schulze and Patricia Mooney of New & Unique Videos, of San Diego, California.Nebraska (film)
Nebraska is a 2013 American black-and-white road comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne and written by Bob Nelson. It stars Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, and Bob Odenkirk. The film follows an elderly Montana resident and his son attempting to claim a million-dollar sweepstakes prize on a long trip to Nebraska.
Nebraska was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, where Dern won the Best Actor Award. It was also nominated for six Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Dern, Best Supporting Actress for Squibb, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography.
The film marked the final project for Paramount Vantage, before it was closed in December 2013.North Hempstead, New York
The Town of North Hempstead is one of three towns in Nassau County, New York, USA. As of the 2010 census, the town population was 226,322.
The town occupies the northwest part of the county. Its Supervisor is Judi Bosworth, a former Nassau County legislator, who was inaugurated on Jan. 1, 2014. A Democrat, she succeeded Interim Supervisor John B. Riordan, the former Nassau County Surrogate, who served since the resignation of Jon Kaiman on Sept. 23, 2013 to work for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Bosworth is the fifth consecutive Democrat to head the former Republican stronghold since Ben Zwirn was elected in 1989.PCH Games
PCH Games (formerly Candystand.com) is a casual game portal owned by Publishers Clearing House and based in New York City. Launched in 1997 as The Candystand, by LifeSavers Company, a division of Nabisco, Inc., it was the first major advergame portal available on the World Wide Web. The site was created for LifeSavers by Skyworks Technologies, an online video game company founded in 1996 by Activision veterans Garry Kitchen and David Crane. In August 2008, Candystand was acquired by Funtank from the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company.In December 2010, Publishers Clearing House acquired Candystand.com from Funtank and retained executives Scott Tannen and James Baker.Candystand is regarded for having a catalog of over 100+ Flash and Shockwave games. Some of its most popular games include Candystand Billiards, Candystand MiniGolf, Monster Trucks Unleashed, Vector Tower Defense (Vector TD), Slipstream and Fancy Pants Adventure 2.
In February 2016, PCH revamped the site, removing most of the games and emphasizing the lottery aspects over the games. In March 2016, Candystand.com was discontinued by PCH.Port Washington, New York
Port Washington is an affluent hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) in Nassau County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island. As of the United States 2010 Census, the community population was 15,846.Port Washington is a hamlet within and directly governed by the town of North Hempstead. With rolling hills and a serpentine coastline in the northwest corner of Nassau County, Port Washington is studded with marinas, parks, yacht clubs and golf courses. The Great Neck peninsula is across Manhasset Bay to the west; Manhasset and Plandome are to the south; Roslyn lies southeast. Besides an unincorporated area of the Town of North Hempstead, Port Washington is home to four incorporated villages: Baxter Estates, Manorhaven, Port Washington North and Sands Point, plus part of the village of Flower Hill.
According to Forbes, Port Washington is ranked as the 418th wealthiest place in the United States as of 2017, with a median home sale price of $1,191,865.Sweepstake
A sweepstake is a type of contest where a prize or prizes may be awarded to a winner or winners. Sweepstakes began as a form of lottery that were tied to products sold. In response, the FCC and FTC refined U.S. broadcasting laws (creating the anti-lottery laws). Under these laws sweepstakes became strictly "No Purchase Necessary to Enter or Win" and "A Purchase Will not Increase Your Chances of Winning", especially since many sweepstakes companies skirted the law by stating only "No Purchase Necessary to Enter", removing the consideration (one of the three legally required elements of gambling) to stop abuse of sweepstakes. Today, sweepstakes in the USA are used as marketing promotions to reward existing consumers and to draw attention to a product. By definition, the winner is determined by luck rather than skill.Venable LLP
Venable LLP is a law firm formerly known as Venable, Baetjer & Howard LLP. The firm is ranked 66th in the 2016 AmLaw 100 survey. It was founded in Baltimore in 1900. Today the firm maintains 8 offices throughout the country and includes more than 675 attorneys practicing in over 70 practice and industry areas covering corporate and business law, complex litigation, intellectual property and regulatory and government affairs.