Question: Am I allowed to run an ad highlighting the advantages of my product against the competitor’s when mentioning his name?
Answer: This is permitted, provided that the information is true and that you are careful to avoid geneivas daas, misleading, and lashon hara, which is prohibited even when true.
For example, it would be misleading to compare your product equipped with optional add-ons against your competitor’s basic product, when he provides the same add-on features. To compare the low price of your basic model against the high price of his fully-loaded model is equally misleading. However, if you are running a sale it is permissible to compare your sales price to his regular price if you note “sale” and “regular” price. The customer can easily check if the competitor is also running a sale now. (C.M. 228:11)
Advertising inherently derogatory statements about your competitor is lashon hara, even if true. For example, if you outperformed your competitor in a customer satisfaction survey, you can advertise your superior performance. However, if the competitor was rated dismally, publicizing his inherently derogatory result is lashon hara. Even if information is already known or readily available, it is still prohibited if your intention is to disparage or gain from his failure. (Chofetz Chaim, Lashon Hara 2:3) You could, however, mention that you outperformed your competitor by 30% or list the competitor in a “below X%” category, where X is not inherently derogatory.
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
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