Contest Sponsor Discontinues Performance Claim Couched in 'Contest' Language

Earlier this year, Oracle sponsored a contest that was advertised on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and other major newspapers. In the ad Oracle claimed that if an Exadata Data Warehouse system is not "5x faster" than an (IBM) Power 795 Data Warehouse system, you win $10,000,000. The ad was challenged by International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).

The NAD first considered whether or not Oracle's ad conveyed a comparative performance claim or if the ad simply described a contest. The NAD found that, even accounting for a sophisticated target audience, a consumer would be reasonable to take away the message that all Oracle Exadata systems run five times as fast as all IBM's Power computer products. The NAD further noted that the fact that the claim was made in the context of a contest announcement did not excuse Oracle from its obligation to provide substantiation.

Oracle did not provide any speed performance tests, examples of comparative system speed superiority or any other data to substantiate the message that its Exadata computer systems run data warehouses five times as fast as IBM Power computer systems.

The NAD determined that Oracle's decision to permanently discontinue this advertisement was necessary and appropriate.

This serves as important reminder that not only do contests needs to be structured properly with official rules but also that claims made in connection with the contest need to be substantiated.

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