But that statement was misleading, according to the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC), a business organization that champions self-regulation in advertising. ASRC is part of the Council of BBBs’ National Advertising Division (NAD).
IBM challenged Oracle’s ads in a complaint filed at the beginning of July. NAD reviewed the ads, stating that an advertiser is “obligated to support all reasonable interpretations…not just the message [the ad] intended to convey.”
As in so many issues in life, the devil seemed to be in the details. The review concluded that “while the advertiser may have intended to convey the message that in one case study, a particular system was up to 20 times faster when performing two particular functions than a particular IBM power system…” the message actually conveyed was much more general.
Oracle voluntarily agreed to stop the national marketing campaign in what NAD said was a “necessary and proper” decision. The company is appealing the decision to the National Advertising Review Board, saying the NAD decision will severely limit the ability to run truthful comparative advertising in the hardware/software industries.
Consumers: I don’t know which product is better, but I can tell you this. Never believe a product statement just because you see it in print. Be skeptical of testimonials, particularly if they’re given in a format like “Bob, Tennessee.” Do your homework by checking a company’s track record at www.bbb.org, and the websites of industry groups like Consumer Reports which compare products to other products. The more research you do on the front end, the happier you’ll be in the very end.