Poking fun at your competitors is a marketing tactic that has been used for years. Whether you’re making a discreet pass or totally throwing shade at your competition, competitive ads are prominent in media today. Grabbing the attention of customers when you’re in a competitive industry can be tough when they have so many options from which to choose. This is especially true for B2C brands. Enter competitive advertising - ads or commercials in which a company positions itself as the superior product by calling out their competitors’ weaknesses. Let’s take a look at eight examples of competitive advertising campaigns to see how these brands tackle advertising in a competitive industry.
Popeyes Owns Chicken Sandwich Sundays
Fast food restaurants are always taking down their competition, one menu item at a time. As many people know, Chick-fil-a, a popular fried chicken chain, is closed on Sundays. Popeye’s knew exactly what to do to take down their competition - they launched their new chicken sandwich on a Sunday. To dig even more at their competitor, Popeye’s launched a video specifically showing that Chick-fil-a is closed on Sunday, but that they will, in fact, be open.
Bud Light is Corn Syrup Free
This year, Bud Light poked fun at not one, but two of their main competitors - Miller Light and Coors Light. Bud Light is trying to make a point that they don’t brew their beer with corn syrup, but their competitors do. In fact, their competitors were quick to respond to these corn syrup ads, by sharing their own competitive comparisons on Twitter, and still continuing the rivalry to this day. This is a direct way to call out your competitors, by using a common concern - here, it’s that consumers don’t want corn syrup in their beer - and positioning yourself as the best, most desirable product.
Energizer Out-Dances Their Competition
Energizer launched an Energizer Lithium vs Competitor ad in recent months. Rather than naming one specific battery competitor, they positioned themselves as the market leaders by naming the second bot “competitor”. Batteries are such a common household item, that you want to make sure yours will last a long time. Taking a bit of a pop-culture angle, Energizer has two robots doing a popular dance side by side, and the Energizer bot dances far longer than that of the competition. This is an example of a small but mighty competitive advertisement.
Is Pepsi Okay?
Another winning Super Bowl 2019 commercial comes from Pepsi. You know how it goes, you’re at a restaurant and you order a Coke, but they’re a Pepsi establishment, so your waiter offers the alternative, “Is Pepsi okay?” Pepsi capitalized on this common situation and used stars such as Steve Carell, Lil Jon, and Cardi B, to sell customers on the fact that of course, Pepsi is more than okay. This is an example of how a company with a timeless rivalry turned that rivalry into a fun commercial to sell their product.
Can You Hear Me Now? Not Anymore
The classic “Can you hear me now?” Verizon commercials are a thing of the past. Why? Well, because Sprint snatched up their spokesperson, Paul. Paul made the switch from Verizon to Sprint and let the world know. Sprint’s reasoning behind this was that they understand what it’s like to be in a crowded and competitive market, so what better way to influence customers to leave their competitors than literally stealing the face of their brand? Paul’s contract with Verizon was over so Sprint built out a whole campaign with commercials, ads, and even a hashtag for social media, #TheSwitchIsReal. This is an excellent example of a company in a highly saturated market, leveraging its competitor to create strong ads that resonate with the public.
Say Goodbye to Your Tailgate
Some companies like to target one competitor, while others, like GMC, take out all of their competitors in one fell swoop. GMC released their updated tailgates on their trucks - a six function tailgate, something that none of their competitors have done before. In their ad, they are showcasing the superiority of their trucks by showing truck owners of various other models ripping off their tailgates, and singing their “anthem” to say goodbye to the old tailgate. This is a great commercial by GMC as they are the first in the industry to have a product feature like this. So, they’re able to compare themselves against every other brand in the industry to position themselves as number one.
We Want You to Spray Your Dress With Deodorant
Dove released an ad to promote their new aerosol antiperspirant, by asking women to spray their clothes with it. Sounds crazy, right? Well, like many deodorant companies, they’ve been criticized that their deodorants leave marks on clothing. So, Dove wanted to showcase that you can actually spray their new product right on your clothes, not that you ever would, but just to make a point. At first, women don’t believe the claims, but once they see it in action, you can tell they’re amazed by the product. This commercial is indirectly calling out their competitors by showing how their products don’t leave marks, much like the competition.
BMW Scares Mercedes on Halloween
On Halloween, 2019, BMW released an ad that read, “Now every car can dress up as its favorite superhero.” featuring a Mercedes with a BMW cover over it. However, Daimler hit them right back on Twitter by saying, “Nice one, @BMWUSA. That’s a really scary costume! Especially that radiator grille…” So, the moral of this story is be careful who you launch that competitive campaign against, because your competitor may be ready to take you down with one simple tweet!
Whether you’re a car manufacturer, a beauty product, or anything in between, you can gain a competitive advantage by kicking off a competitive advertising campaign. Take a lesson from these competitive campaigns that poke fun at the competition to create memorable campaigns that resonate with everyone who sees them.
A great competitive campaign can offer you a shot to tackle your competition, and stand out as a market leader. But, once the campaign has run its course, you still need some strong competitive material to show your strengths over your competition. Ready to get started? Download our free Guide to Competitive Comparison Pages.
Originally published March 21, 2019. Updated on November 22, 2019.