Models Say Ochiwear, Contemporary Vision Center Failed To Award Contest Prizes, BBB Warns
St. Louis, Mo., July 15, 2013 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising consumers to be cautious when dealing with Contemporary Vision Centerof Manchester, Mo., after models complained that the firm failed to award contest prizes in a national marketing campaign. The complaints also involve a related eyewear design firm called Ochiwear.
Traci Hahn is owner and doctor of optometry for Contemporary. The models and their agencies said they dealt with Hahn’s husband, Andy Hahn, a designer and artist for the company.
“This is crazy,” said a University of Missouri-St. Louis student from East St. Louis who was announced as the contest’s $1,000 grand prize winner more than a year ago. The woman said she filed a small claims court case in St. Louis County in an attempt to collect her winnings.
“They certainly took advantage of us,” said a contest winner from Wildwood, who said he, too, has been unable to collect promised prizes.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said complaints surrounding the contest raise questions about the company’s business ethics. “This was a highly publicized contest involving some of this area’s leading modeling agencies and several high-profile judges from St. Louis’ fashion industry,” Corey said.
Contemporary and Ochiwear announced the marketing campaign and contest in promotional materials sent to modeling agencies in April 2012. “Searching for men and women for a national marketing campaign,” a flyer states. “Top two men and two women will receive free eyewear, with a grand prize of $1,000.”
The company offered private casting calls for professional models on April 21 and 22, 2012.
The judging panel narrowed the field to 15 finalists. Those finalists, in turn, competed for the top prizes by asking friends and family members to “like” Ochiwear’s Facebook page. The UMSL student won top prize by getting more than 1,300 Facebook likes, which translated into votes.
In addition to the top prize of $1,000 cash, the top two male and top two female winners would win $500 in eyewear and would become models for a photo shoot designed to advertise the eyewear line.
Ochiwear issued a news release announcing the four top winners on May 10, 2012. The release included photographs of the four winners and said that they would be featured “in Ochiwear’s national marketing materials, modeling their designer eyewear.”
The winners’ pictures and information about the contest remained posted on Ochiwear’s Facebook page last week.
The UMSL student said she emailed Andy Hahn several times, asking about the promised photo shoot and her prizes. She said he cut off communications with her earlier this year after she threatened to go to court.
Sharon Tucci, head of Talent Plus, the St. Louis area agency that represents the UMSL student, called the situation “very odd.” She said she also has tried to contact Andy Hahn, without success. She described the student as “a hard worker” who “needed that money.”
Gail Lasater, director of West Model & Talent Management, which represents both of the male prize winners, said she was disappointed by the outcome. She said her agency “really promoted this” to their models. “It’s sad that I got my models involved and nothing came of it,” she said. “It hurt my credibility. I don’t like it.”
The East St. Louis and Wildwood contest winners said they spent numerous hours competing for Facebook support on behalf of Ochiwear. “It was a lot of work,” the Wildwood winner said. “Then, we never heard anything.”
A BBB investigator visited the Contemporary Vision and Ochiwear showroom to speak with the Hahns about the contest. They were not in, but a receptionist said she would ask them to contact him. They did not respond. The company also did not reply to an email about the contest.
The BBB advises consumers to research any contest and the company sponsoring it. The BBB also suggests reading contest rules, agreements or contracts carefully before becoming involved.
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Contacts (News Media Only): Michelle L. Corey, President and CEO, (314) 645-0606, email@example.com; Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, (314) 584-6743 or (314) 681-4719 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org; Bill Smith, Investigator, (314) 584-6727, email@example.com