Siblings – football – business. No matter where you look, rivalry is everywhere. While mudslinging and attack ads have been largely confined to the political world, more and more businesses are taking advantage of competitive marketing.
From Bing to Powerade, brands are directly calling out their competitors and bringing their rivalries to the next level. While I can honestly say that I don’t loathe any of my competitors, brand rivalries have gotten so fierce that some company executives openly “hate” each other.
Competition Advertising: Bring it On!
Brands that have directly challenged their competitors include:
- Bing: Bing’s “Don’t Get Scroogled!” campaign takes direct aim on Google by capitalizing on privacy fears and relative discontent in the SEM community. Bing specifically attacks Gmail, Google Shopping and Google Apps to convince users to switch over to Bing. While the campaign appears to be working to some extent, it’s a risky move that I personally wouldn’t recommend – there’s a fine line between negative and competitive advertising (let’s leave the negative ads to the politicians).
The danger here is that Microsoft is attacking Android and iOS developers, the very same people who build Microsoft’s platforms. The biggest lesson to learn from Bing’s campaign is that you should try to avoid alienating the people you need in your advertising. Though this is a risk Bing is willing to take, it’s one that I think most companies are not.
- Powerade: Though Gatorade has approximately 75 percent of the market share in the United States, Powerade is competitively seeking more influence in the industry. In recent ads, Powerade has called out their competition by name – a maneuver that I found they handled gracefully and brilliantly.
You see, Gatorade has released a line of Prime, Perform and Recover drinks. Now, while I might not be a professional athlete, being required to drink 3 different drinks on game day is a bit excessive, don’t ya think? To capitalize on this, Powerade has embarked on a “Keep it simple” campaign that cuts down on the confusion. This friendly jab focusing on the competition’s perceived product inefficiency is what made this a successful move.
- Volkswagen: I have a bit of history for you. Immediately after World War II, Volkswagen decided to enter the American market. Who would have ever thought that a German car commissioned by Adolf Hitler himself would have ever succeeded?
The Volkswagen strategy focused on being different. At the time, the entire US auto industry was focused on big cars. Big cars were the norm – big was beautiful. When Volkswagen entered the scene, they went against the entire US auto industry with the slogan, “Think Small.” These two words cut through the competition and established Volkswagen as the only unique option in the market.
Are You Inspired to Make Your Marketing More Competitive?
If you want to be the challenger brand, then you’ll want to create a strong content strategy that will ensure success and prevent a flop campaign. A truly successful competitive marketing strategy is one that can sustain itself over time. You don’t want to release a competitive ad only to have nothing else to say or be unable to respond to criticism.
Creating a roadmap gives you the ability to attack the market leader and increase your share of the pie.
Furthermore, avoid being overtly negative whenever possible. While you want to leverage challenging ads against your competitor, you also want to make consumers perceive your brand as different, similar to the Volkswagen campaign. When you establish yourself as a genuine alternative, then competitive ads can truly have a great effect.
The great news is that it’s much easier to be the challenger brand than to do the defending – even if the competitive ads fail. You see, your brand has much to gain but very little to lose.
And hey, people love rooting for the underdog.
Game Face Photo via Shutterstock
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