Tatto Media agrees to alter its online advertising methods
SEATTLE – Money can’t buy love. But that didn’t stop a Washington-based company from tempting Internet users with the chance to learn the identity of a secret admirer. Unfortunately, any lonely hearts or curious souls who may have bit at Tatto Media, Inc.’s promotion lost out. According to the Washington Attorney General’s Office, the company’s promise to reveal your “LuvCrush” was a sham to sign consumers up for a horoscope text-messaging service.
“Tatto Media’s ‘MyLuvCrush’ promo was nothing but a tease that may have crushed the hearts of hopeful romantics,” said Senior Counsel Paula Selis, an assistant attorney who heads up the office’s Consumer Protection High-Tech Unit.
The company, which has offices in Seattle and Boston and promotes itself as a behavioral advertising service, reached an agreement with the AG that restricts how it can advertise in the future.
The Attorney General’s Office does not know how many Internet users may have been duped by the promotion but opened an investigation after discovering negative comments about MyLuvCrush on blogs and discussion sites. The office also received a written complaint from a consumer who did not know why her cell phone bills included a fee for a horoscope subscription.
Selis said the office’s investigation showed that Tatto’s promo included a string of teasers. The Attorney General’s Office alleged that:
Users of social-networking sites including Reunion.com, Facebook and MySpace were shown an ad resembling an e-mail message that suggests someone in their community is interested: “1 New LuvCrush from Seattle!”
Clicking on the ad directed users to the MyLuvCrush Web site, found at www.myluvcrush.com and www.perfectcrush.com. A phony pop-up message on the site proclaimed, for example, “IMPORTANT: YOUR CRUSH FROM SEATTLE IS TRYING TO CONTACT YOU AT THIS VERY MOMENT. FIND OUT WHO NOW.”
Users were then taken to a Web page instructing them to enter their cell phone number. The page included an agreement to purchase a $9.99 monthly subscription to the horoscope service.
After subscribing, users received a text message with a fictitious name of the alleged crush.
Under the Assurance of Discontinuance filed today in King County Superior Court, Tatto Media agrees that it won’t misrepresent that a real person has an existing romantic interest in the computer user or that the computer user will lose the opportunity to learn the identity unless they take action. The company also agrees not to misrepresent the existence of a personal e-mail message or falsely imply that a promotional offer will expire.
The company will pay $20,262 to reimburse the state’s attorneys’ fees and costs.
Tatto Media AOD
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432