Hoover Fiasco flights and unilateral contracts

Promotion Marketing Hoover

Earlier, I wrote about what has become known as the Hoover Flight fiasco. To explain what happened in short: in 1992 Hoover organized a campaign that promised two free seats in flights to Europe or America to customers who buy goods Hoover, which was worth £ 100 or more pounds.

The campaign has been extremely successful in encouraging people to buy products Hoover, but it is extremely unfortunate that, as Hoover had to pay for flights. According to one estimate, the sale of Hoover was £ 30 million, and the cost of flight – £ 50 million.

In my previous article, I raised the question, why not just Hoover pulled the cord on things if he knew that the advertising campaign is not doing all that I wanted.

One of the responses to PR – that Hoover has suffered successive disasters PR due to promotions and how they treated him. But, if I pull the plug will only get worse – no matter how much worse it can get.

I suggested that perhaps the second answer, which should be explored, and one-way contract. This response is associated with the nature of unilateral contracts, the type of contract in which one person promises something different instead.

Perhaps so like when Hoover promotion terminated earlier, would be customers who would have the right to require tickets, because with this question, they signed a contract with Hoover, although they have not bought the product Hoover.

English contract law

English contract law has historically recognized only transaction as creating legal obligations between the two parties. The deal provides for the exchange: I give you something, and you give me something in return. The fact that we share can consist of exchange promises – such a contract is usually called a bilateral contract.

Less common, but still important one-way contract. In this type of contract is exchanged the promise of one person in return for an act of another. Awards – good examples. If you see that my advertising offers £ 100 for returning my lost dog (promise), your dog, which will return (act), it creates a contract.

In most cases, contracts include supply and acceptance. One person suggests that accepts the other person. The unilateral promise to contract – the offer and act – taking. For example, I offer a reward for the return of my lost dog, and you accept my offer an act of returning my lost dog.

Typically, a person who makes a proposal (it is often called the sentence), may change your mind and cancel the offer. Technical terms of the contract proposed by the person denies his proposal. However, to withdraw the proposal, the law provides two positions: the offender must report on the abolition of appeals to the other side (which is known as the offender), before he took it. All this seems to have a very good sense.

Unilateral offers and cancellations

Let me give you an example of what could potentially form a one-way contract. I promise you 1000 pounds, if you run and finish the London Marathon. You promise not to run a marathon; However, due the day you are in the starting lineup. When you finish the marathon; It is a one-way contract, and I owe you £ 1,000.

Remember what I said about the cancellation of the proposals: a proposed person (s violation of the marathon) I can withdraw the offer at any time before it is accepted by the infringer (you are a member of the marathon) until it reports that review the offender. So I can withdraw the proposal of 1000 pounds, telling you his dismissal at any time, before you take it. If you think it is a problem, when they deal with unilateral offers.

When a unilateral contract is a question, at what point does aktseptsyya? Adoption – this is an act, and act – it's something that has a beginning and an end. The act is not instantaneous. In the case of the marathon of your actions will take several hours.

Although there are arguments to the contrary, in the case of the adoption of the marathon will probably be crossing the finish line, because I asked – I asked you to run and finish the race.

Thus, if the acceptance of my promise occurs only when crossing the border, according to the rules of revocation I can revoke the offer at any time before you receive it – that is, before you cross the line – as long as I give you this cancellation. . Thus, we can be a situation where you ran 26 miles and 350 yards, when I jump out of the crowd and I tell you that my offer has been canceled.

If I allow to successfully withdraw the offer at this late stage, it does not seem fair, but it looks like where we adopted the principles of contract law. Are the English contract law allows me to do this?

The path of dishonesty

I have to guess that most people would say that would allow me to withdraw the proposal would be very unfair to the aforementioned circumstances. Can a & # 39 appears contractual principles that allow it to do, but, probably, many would say that you should be allowed to finish his act, as soon as you start it. The key point here is that you acted in good faith, based on what I promised you.

It seems that the English law of contract would have agreed with this opinion. It would seem that such a position, if there is a unilateral proposal; cancellation is not allowed if the offender began to act. In most cases, it seems quite reasonable. Position in English law explained Goff LV in Daulia Limited against Four Milbank Nominees Limited one thousand nine hundred seventy-eight.

The judge begins by saying that "… a real look at the one-sided treaty as a whole shall consist of the fact that the offender shall be entitled to require full compliance with the conditions that he imposed, and if he does not have …". Thus, in the case of the marathon, this means that you get the right money only when crossing the border.

The judge went on to say that "… the offender shall bear in mind the obligation to prevent the condition, which is an obligation, it seems to me, should occur as soon as the offender begins to perform." Once you begin to carry out their actions, so I can not withdraw its proposal. Certainly, then, if at this moment begins the shooting of the starting gun, I can not withdraw its proposal.

Here the question is: what is it connected with the case of Hoover?

Case Hoover and unilateral contracts

Unilateral contracts are sometimes called the contract "if" or "when the then" because their shape is always the same: if you do this, then I'll do it. If you start and finish the London Marathon, I'll give you a £ 1,000; or if you buy one of our products Hoover, we will give you two tickets from the UK to Europe or the United States.

Initially, the proposal Hoover made its proposal in August 1992, and it will run until the end of January 1993. Nothing prevents you to withdraw the proposal, even though you said you would keep it open for a certain period of time. Thus, Hoover could withdraw its proposal at any time before it naturally ended in January 1993.

Which would be the position when Hoover tried to cancel its advertising campaign – that is, to withdraw the offer – for example, in December 1992? Question: effective such a review? From all the above, a one-sided offer can not be withdrawn as soon as the offender has started the action proposed in the proposal.

Cancellation will be effective with respect to those who have not started the act of purchase of Hoover to recall the moment. For example, withdrawal point was 12 December 1992. It all seems simple enough, right? If you started the act of purchase of the product Hoover prior to that date; you are entitled to tickets. But that would be an act of buying a product of Hoover?

requested law

If the act of purchase – putting money in the store, most of what follows is superfluous. the act of buying, however, may be somewhat more complicated than that, and can begin even before you enter the store. Let's go back for a marathon.

I ask you to run and complete a marathon. Very improbable is not impossible, but certainly very improbable that you just go and prabegnetse marathon without at least a few weeks of training – may exercise 3 – 6 months, will not be groundless. Justification of a rule against the abolition, if the act begins with & # 39 is that it is unfair to the offender. It's not fair to the offender, because he hopes that he promised, and accordingly adjusts its position.

If I promise to you to run and finish the London Marathon, the preparation for this can take a considerable amount of time and much more expensive – you may need to buy sports clothing, and who knows what else. Thus, there may come a time when your training is quite harmful for you – in terms of cost – that I could not withdraw the proposal, and deprive you of being able to perform the required act.

You can apply similar reasoning in the case of Hoover. Let's stay with a fairly simple situation that could occur. It is possible that a potential buyer has decided that it will not buy the Hoover before the New Year. There may be a number of reasons why it can solve. For example, it can save money, for example. You can come up with a set of variations on a topic such as this, when – Hoover cancel your advertising campaign – the fertile minds of customers who are denied the ability to create a free flight, can build.


I'm not sure that people in Hoover sat and discussed the jurisprudence of unilateral contracts. I believe that the reason that the action allowed to go his way, was that Hoover thought that the damage from the Jesuits already pretty bad, and the cancellation can only worsen the situation.

I'm sure someone has done the calculation and came out with a bad position in terms of the likely number of people who may accept the offer of flights. However, I can not believe that the figure is £ 50 million would be achieved and accepted.

I wonder, however, if someone with a keen legal mind could just raise a warning about the problem of unilateral contracts. Perhaps she thought that the early termination can cause big problems. Hundreds, maybe thousands of disappointed customers may claim that they have begun the act of purchase of Hoover. This will lead to even greater PR sur & # 39; oznyh legal bills and perhaps defeat in the courts, if in many cases it has gone so far.

It is interesting to speculate what might happen if Hoover canceled an advertising campaign. Almost certain that any ruling handed down by the court – in case if the trial took place – would be limited to a very narrow point of law which would have focused on other controversial issues of unilateral contracts: issues to which I will return in future articles.