Posted: April 11th, 2016
LEAD STORY DATELINE:
Wall Street Journal, August 9, 1999.
John D.R. Leonard took PepsiCo seriously when one of their Pepsistuff commercials made an offer of a Harrier jet, the famous high tech jump jet used by the U.S. Marines. In a TV commercial that aired in 1995, Pepsi jokingly included the Harrier as one of the prizes that could be received with a mere 7 million Pepsi points. While that sounds like a lot of points to get from drinking Pepsi products (roughly 190 Pepsis a day for 100 years), the company also allowed customers to purchase points for 10 cents a piece.
Leonard did the math, and discovered that the cost of the 7 million points needed for the jet was a mere $700,000. He then put together a business plan, raised the $700,000 from friends and family, and submitted 15 Pepsi points, the check, and an official order form along with a demand for the Harrier jet.
PepsiCo wrote back, stating: The Harrier jet in the Pepsi commercial is fanciful and is simply included to create a humorous and entertaining ad. We apologize for any misunderstanding or confusion that you may have experienced and are enclosing some free product coupons for your use.
The free coupons did not satisfy Leonard, who then took PepsiCo to task in court. Finally, on August 5, 1999, a federal judge for the Southern District of New York held that PepsiCo was only joking when it implied in its ad that it was giving away fighter jets. Judge Wood noted that since the jets sell for approximately $23 million each, no objective person could reasonably have concluded that the commercial actually offered consumers a Harrier jet. Instead, this was a classic example of a deal too good to be true.
1. What are the four elements of a valid contract?
2. Describe the objective theory of contracts. How does that theory apply to this case?
3.Why do you think the court held that there was not a valid agreement here?
4. Are advertisements generally considered offers? Why or why not?
5. How does this case differ from a reward situation, where a unilateral contract is formed upon completion of the requested act?
This solution describes the four elements of a valid contract, as well as the objective theory of contracts as it applies to the case of the City of Bigtown s Counsel. It discusses why the court held that there was not a valid agreement in this case, and whether or not advertisements are generally considered offers, including why or why not. Then, it discusses how this case differs from a reward situation where a unilateral contract is formed upon completion of the requested act. Supplemented with extra informative information on contrasts.
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