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Microsoft runs early April Fools ad
From: "Richard M. Smith" <rms () computerbytesman com>
Date: Fri, 21 Mar 2003 23:01:00 -0500
Microsoft ad pulled by ASA
The Advertising Standards Authority of SA (ASA) has ordered that a
Microsoft ad implying that its software will bring about the extinction
of the hacker is to be pulled for being "unsubstantiated and
An objection was lodged by freelance journalist Richard Clarke, in his
personal capacity, who complained that the advert was untrue. He claimed
Microsoft software is littered with vulnerabilities.
The advert depicts a dodo, a woolly mammoth, a sabre tooth tiger and a
hacker. The caption claims that not everyone benefits from Microsoft
software and that with it, a customer's data couldn't be safer even if
it was kept in a safe. It was published in the November issues of ITWeb
Brainstorm and Time Magazine.
"Microsoft's software is littered with vulnerabilities," Clarke says in
Microsoft was asked by the ASA to provide information, substantiated by
an independent, credible expert, on the degree of security of its
software in accordance with Code of Advertising Practices. Microsoft was
also asked to defend the advert against Clarke's claim that the advert
Microsoft submitted documentation to substantiate its claims about the
security of the software and said the advert was not designed to mislead
the consumer, but was merely a tongue in cheek dramatisation that the
software would threaten the survival of hackers.
After reviewing both parties' submissions, the ASA ruled that
Microsoft's claims about the security of its software were
unsubstantiated as it had not been evaluated by an independent entity.
The ASA ruling said because the claim was unsubstantiated, it was
therefore misleading and ordered the advert to be withdrawn.
Steyn Laubscher, Microsoft account director at Lowe Bull Advertising
agency, says Microsoft is in the process of having Windows XP
Professional and Windows .Net server 2003 evaluated by independent
experts against the common criteria.
"Substantial information was submitted from our US office, backing up
the claims. Our survey data are still in the process of being evaluated
by independent experts and we informed the ASA of that. However, the ASA
still ordered the ad withdrawn."
Laubscher says despite the decision, Microsoft fully maintains that its
software is able to fulfil the task of keeping hackers and viruses out,
making the customers' data safer than if kept in a safe.
Clarke described Microsoft's claim as "laughable".
The advert was to be run this year in a number of broad-reaching
business publications, including Business Day, the Financial Mail and
Full-Disclosure - We believe in it.
- Microsoft runs early April Fools ad Richard M. Smith (Mar 22)