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Microsoft Pulls Ad Found Misleading

March 24, 2003

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) _ After receiving an unfavorable ruling from regulators, Microsoft Corp. has yanked an ad implying its major software packages would render computer hackers as extinct as saber tooth tigers and the dodo bird.

The Advertising Standards of South Africa recently ordered the software giant to pull the ad here, calling it misleading and unsubstantiated.

On Monday, Microsoft officials said they would not fight the finding, though the company said the ad was not meant to mislead the consumer, but was merely a tongue-in-cheek dramatization.

Published in the November edition of a South African technology magazine, Brainstorm, the ad features a Dodo, a Woolly Mammoth, a Saber-toothed tiger and a hacker with a captain that reads: ``Not everybody benefits from our secure software.″

The ad, for its Windows XP Professional operating system and its flagship server software, Windows .NET Server 2003, also says that data protected by Microsoft software could not be safer if it were kept in a safe.

The advertising authority, an independent regulatory body whose decisions are legally binding, said that by depicting animals that were extinct along with a hacker, the ad wrongly created the impression its software spelled the end to hackers.

``The secure software claims are currently unsubstantiated, the visual representation, which creates the impression that Microsoft software is secure, is misleading,″ the ruling said.

Amy Erasmus, a Microsoft spokeswoman, said the company was not pursuing the matter.

``We were told to pull the ad and that is exactly what we did. Microsoft has no intention of reviving the campaign. We are simply moving on,″ she said.

She said Microsoft was asked to provide independently substantiated information to back up their claims.

The objection to the ad was filed by journalist Richard Clarke, who said several Microsoft Web servers and core operating systems were ``littered with vulnerabilities.″

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