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Can an advertisement be considered a contract?

In Florida and across the country, we're inundated with advertisements. Drive down the road, and you'll see a billboard. Watch a video online, and you'll sit through an ad. Watch a sporting event, and you'll see a life's worth of commercials. We generally ignore them (though science tells us that they affect us nonetheless), but can advertisements be considered a contract in the legal sense?

Well, to answer that, we first need to understand what a contract is. In order for something to be considered a legal contract, there has to be two things: offer and acceptance. In other words, one party offers something and the other party accepts the terms. This can be verbal or written, though verbal contracts are very hard to enforce in court. The parties also cannot have been coerced or unduly influenced to accept the contract.

So, with that in mind, are advertisements considered contracts? Generally, the answer is "no." Advertisements aren't considered offers, so even if you see a billboard for a "stupendous burger" and it makes you stop at the burger place, the courts would not see that as an offer and an acceptance. Instead, advertisements are an "invitation to negotiate." So, in our previous example, you couldn't sue the burger joint by saying that they didn't hold up their end of the contract to make a stupendous burger because you found it to be only mediocre.

If you need help with actual contracts for your business, whether it's drawing them up or fighting a breach of contract case, you may want to think about speaking with an attorney.

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