Mentioning a competitor in your marketing campaign can be a tricky line to walk. First off, the brand advertising has to be careful of slander and anythingthat can lead to potential lawsuits. Secondly the advertising brand must weigh its own audience, how loyal they are, and what their needs or desireswith their products may be. Loyal consumers are a great thing for a brand, and if they are loyal because your brand image is funny and more tongue incheek, then the Pepsi masquerading as Cola would be a great advertisement, because it’s something your audience expects and appreciates.
If yourtarget audience is not particularly brand loyal, mentioning a competitor could have the opposite intended effect and could drive customers to yourcompetition! In my experience, few people are able to tell the difference between Pepsi and Coca Cola, and often don’t mind having one over the otherif only one is available. In fact in some countries “cola” is simply a dark soda and has nothing to do with either of the top brands mentioned previously.If a company’s consumers are strongly brand loyal, as many Apple fans are, then comparative marketing with a competitor can be quite powerful andhelp your current market feel even more aligned with your brand and company. Macintosh has a very notable campaign of two male actors representinga Mac and a PC.
In this campaign, they use the same actors to demonstrate how Macs are faster and more reliable than PCs, among other differencesbetween the two computers. The humor in their copy/script for the actors made the difference in this campaign, turning it from a comparison list to theMac trying to care for or about the PC and feeling sorry that it couldn’t keep up. This was effective in that it gave Mac users a feeling of superiority in theproducts that they use, yet it didn’t berate the PC users so much so that they felt defensive. The Macintosh company chose issues with PC’s that werenot hot button topics, but more simple annoyances, that all computer users face.
This campaign is a good example of how to talk about your competitorand their products without being too abrasive.Overall comparison of different company products can be tricky to do right. When executed well, and towards the right audience, it can help to increaseyour customer’s loyalty and confirm their assumptions of having made the superior choice in products to use. However if your consumers are not brandloyal, your mention of the competition could negatively effect the influence your marketing campaign has. This just confirms a key point in all marketingefforts, which is to always think of your customer first.
Understanding and acknowledging the needs and desires of your target audience should alwaysbe an integral part of any marketing campaign.