The Harrier Jet in the Commercial

The Harrier Jet in the Commercial




The paper is an analysis of the Harrier jet case in which a Seattle man mistakenly took a TV commercial joke as an offer to make a contract with a soft drink company. It summarizes the elements that validate a contract and give a view of the objective theory of contracts. Further, the paper gives an application and a comparison of the case with the laws related to contracts.

            The Harrier Jet in the Commercial

            The first element that qualifies a contract as valid is the agreement. Goldman & Sigismond (2011) explain that this is achieved through the offer and acceptance process where the offeror makes the offer and the offeree accepts it. The second element is the consideration. It caters for the fact that the two parties receive consideration or value from the agreement. In most cases, consideration is in the form of money or property in exchange of a good or service. The third element is capacity, which means having the legal and mental capability to enter into the binding contract. Goldman & Sigismond (2011), state that the parties entering into a contract must understand its outlines and be of legal age. Those under the influence of alcohol or other drugs and the mentally ill also do not qualify.

             Legality, the last element, means that the contract stands for the law and under no circumstance should it be opposed. Contracts are not considered valid when their intent is illegal activities or violation of the law. A contract is legally effective when the offer is made with serious intent and is communicated to the offeree. The objective theory of a contract requires that the intention be determined by the words and conduct rather than the unspoken intention of the offeror. The theory therefore, states that the existence of a contract is determined by the legal significance of the external acts of a party to alleged agreement rather than their actual intent (Barnes, 2008).

            The objective theory in this case is applicable in justifying that no offer was made in the advertisement. The law does not recognize commercials as offers to make contracts. The fact is that the Seattle man misinterpreted the advertisement as an offer to making a contract with the soft drink company. The theory applies since the man took the commercial seriously unaware of the joke behind it, but the company had not made an offer, thus it was invalid.

            The court held that there was no valid agreement because there was a lack of evidence on how it was reached. To begin with, the offer was not seriously intended since the soft drink company was just joking in their commercial. Secondly, it was not a definite offer since no clarity of details pertaining to the attainment of the Harrier jet was given. The third justification as to why the court did not recognize the said agreement is that there was a lack of communication of the offer. The soft drinks company had not made any legal communication of the offer to a contract. According to (2013), advertisements are not considered as offers, rather as invitations. This is because they do not meet the requirements of an offer. The law interprets them as summons to potential customers to make an offer to the advertisers. Advertisements, therefore, do not contain the requirements found in offers and thus cannot be referred as such.

            Stone (2005) states that acceptance occurs through the performance of an act, rather than the expression of an agreement in a unilateral contract. An offer is therefore, a promise made by one party in return of the performance of an act by the other party. The difference between this case and a reward situation in a unilateral case is that the offer is most likely to end up in a promise made between the two parties. From the Harrier jet case, no promise was made between the Seattle man and the soft drink company.


Barnes, W. (2008). The Objective Theory of Contracts. LexisNexis. Retrieved from

Goldman, A. J., & Sigismond, W. D. (2011). Business law: Principles and practices. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning. (2013). Offers explained. Retrieved from

Stone, R. (2005). The modern law of contract. London: Cavendish.

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