Comparability advertisements – From Cola Wars to Laptop Wars


BNBranding logoA shopper of mine not too long ago noticed some rivals doing a little fairly shady stuff, and requested me if he ought to run some comparability advertisements. Level out the issue.

It’s query, and the reply is determined by all kinds of things. Comparability promoting may be wildly efficient when it’s achieved proper by underdog manufacturers.

There are various examples… Again within the 70’s and 80’s probably the most talked-about battle of the manufacturers was between Coke & Pepsi. Pepsi was a distant second behind Coke once they launched their “Pepsi Problem” style check. It was a blind style check that in contrast flavors, face to face, with Coke.

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Turned out, nearly all of individuals mentioned they appreciated Pepsi higher.  Lots of people have been shocked by that, and their reactions have been caught on digicam and utilized in an advert marketing campaign that unfold like wildfire.

It generated tons of latest protection, and even hit prime time TV on All In The Household and Saturday Evening Reside. “No Coke. Pepsi!” John Belushi famously mentioned.

That research-based marketing campaign helped Pepsi improve its market share considerably. By 1983 Pepsi was outselling Coke in supermarkets. (Coke was nonetheless #1 because of its bigger infrastructure of soda machines and quick meals partnerships.)

However most significantly, it put Coke executives on the defensive and led to one of many greatest advertising blunders of all time: New Coke.

They messed with their beloved method simply because a smaller competitor’s advertisements claimed that Pepsi tastes higher.

Don’t try this. Don’t ever reply on to the claims of a smaller competitor. Higher to take the excessive street, and do your personal promoting by yourself phrases. New Coke and the Cola Conflict remains to be well-liked subject of school advertising courses world wide.

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Within the early 2000’s probably the most excessive profile advertising battlefield was computer systems. Nerds everywhere in the world have been speaking concerning the battle between Microsoft and Apple. It was a struggle that ought to by no means have been fought.

Ever since 1984, when Steve Jobs launched the Macintosh with probably the most well-known Superbowl commercials of all time, the parents at Microsoft have been paranoid about Apple. So paranoid, in actual fact, they ignored probably the most primary tenets of promoting and comparative promoting…

By no means reply to an assault by a smaller competitor.

That is advertising 101 of us, and but Coke and Microsoft each failed the check.

If you happen to management 90% of the market, like Microsoft did, don’t give a puny little competitor like Apple the time of day. Don’t get suckered right into a battle, and don’t design an advert marketing campaign that instantly mimics the competitor’s marketing campaign.

Apple began all of it with the assistance of TBWA/Chiat Day’s brilliantly easy “I’m a Mac” marketing campaign.

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These spots work on so many alternative ranges, it’s ridiculous… Nice writing, nice casting and nice performing positioned a hip, cool Apple dude in opposition to a nerdy center supervisor who’s caught with Microsoft and desires he may very well be cool too. Probably probably the most strategically sensible “speaking head” promoting of all time.

If the Microsoft execs have been sensible they wouldn’t contact the topic with a ten-foot pole. Simply let it go, and provide you with one thing memorable of your personal.

You’re the market chief, keep in mind!

However noooo… They performed proper into Apple’s palms and produced a knee-jerk response, knock-off model of the Apple spots.

They employed an actor who seems just like the man within the authentic Apple spots, and gave him this opening line: “Hi there, I’m a PC, and I’ve been made right into a stereotype.”

All that did was shine the highlight again on Jobs & firm.

Microsoft’s copycat spots gave the Apple marketing campaign a complete new life. Each time one ran, the viewers was reminded of the unique Apple spots. Not solely that, the media protection of the comparability advertisements gave Apple free airtime on the night information, successfully extending the smaller competitor’s media price range.

I’m unsure if Apple was purposely making an attempt to get an increase out of Microsoft, however they certain did. And each time Microsoft responded in form, they dig themselves a deeper gap.

Subsequent, Microsoft upped the ante with their “laptop computer hunter”  comparability advertisements.

They despatched “actual individuals” out to buy one of the best laptop computer they might discover for underneath $1000. A cute, wholesome-looking actor visits an Apple retailer and says “I suppose I’m simply not cool sufficient for a Mac.”   

It’s a pleasant, genuine feeling spot. From an execution standpoint, it’s very effectively achieved — most likely one of the best spot ever produced for Microsoft. Sadly, it’s based mostly on a no-win technique.

Apple has at all times been a premium model that’s not for everybody. That’s not information. So why would Microsoft proceed to run advertisements that assist cement that message and reinforce Apple’s place within the market?

Within the “Laptop computer Hunter” spots they’re principally admitting {that a} Mac is what everybody aspires to. Apple’s the pc for cool individuals. The model of creativity.

If you happen to can’t afford one you accept a second-best PC.

The spots flat-out encourage individuals to check Home windows-based laptops to the MacBook. Positive, there may be some low-hanging fruit out there for low-end laptops, however that’s only a short-term pricing message that hinges extra on the financial local weather than any real model technique. Not the kind of message a #1 participant ought to even contemplate.

Fox Information did a nine-minute phase concerning the misguided Microsoft comparability advertisements, and Apple laughed all the way in which to the financial institution.

Tit for tat works for Apple. Not for Microsoft. The king of the class can’t take pot photographs at a perceived underdog, it simply doesn’t look good.


The market chief ought to lead, not comply with, in its promoting.


The actual fact is, Microsoft didn’t have a historical past of artistic, attention-grabbing promoting. However, Apple has a protracted historical past of groundbreaking promoting, from “Assume Totally different” to “I’m a PC.” and the enduring iPod spots.

Apple conjures up nice promoting as a result of it makes nice merchandise. They will do comparability advertisements as a result of the info back-up the hype. They’ve superior merchandise, in so some ways.

Microsoft… not a lot.  The one factor that they had going for them was worth.

In order that’s the primary standards for comparability advertisements: If you happen to actually, clearly have a product that’s factually higher than the competitors’s product, by all means, run comparability advertisements. Reality guidelines!

But when the services or products is simply the identical, and even simply subjectively completely different, don’t do it.

Each advert, each social media publish, each level of buy show Apple ever creates is a comparability advert of kinds. Not overt, however a delicate comparability nonetheless. As a result of as customers, we instantly categorize issues.

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When these advertisements for the iPod got here out, everybody instantly thought “Wow… that’s cool. Microsoft certain doesn’t have something like that.”

In actual fact, there have been a variety of purposeful MP3 gamers in the marketplace on the time, however they weren’t cool trying. They weren’t as effectively designed because the iPod. They weren’t branded. They weren’t Apple.

The iPod print advertisements, TV spots and billboards summed all of it up in a single, easy graphic resolution and one pithy assertion from Jobs… “1000 songs in your pocket.”

They didn’t should beat individuals over the heads with product options and thoughts numbing info. They only confirmed the product in its jamming simplicity. Typically that’s one of the best comparability advert you are able to do.

Earlier than Apple ever launched the “I’m a PC” marketing campaign, the entire world knew the rating. The TV spots simply confirmed what everybody was already pondering.

When it’s a David and Goliath state of affairs, solely David can throw out comparability advertisements efficiently.

So right here’s one other standards for comparability advertisements… You are able to do them when public notion is in your aspect.


Like when the little burger chain known as Wendy’s took on McDonald’s.

One sensible comparative advert — three phrases — solidified that model and cemented Wendy’s success.

“The place’s The Beef?”

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It was a superb, humorous twist on comparability promoting. Wendy’s hamburger patties actually have been thicker and juicier than McDonald’s patties, and the previous girl simply mentioned it, flat out.

Watch the previous Clara Peller spot right here. 

Discover that the phrase “McDonald’s” is nowhere to be present in that script. Doesn’t should be… everybody knew that they have been referring to the market chief. In that case, there’s no denying the success of that comparability promoting.

In contrast to Microsoft and Coke, McDonald’s was sensible sufficient to NOT reply to the humorous jab. A minimum of indirectly.

For extra on promoting technique, do this publish. 

If you happen to’d like assist devising your personal marketing campaign of comparability advertisements, I may help. Contact me right here, or attain me on LinkedIn.

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