Do Attack Ads Work?

By Posted in - E-Note on January 14th, 2016 0 Comments

Now that the political season is picking up, I’m sure you’re starting to see attack ads pop up. “This candidate doesn’t think of the American people!” or “He’s not fit to lead!” are common narratives that seep their way onto your television, but it doesn’t stop there. Good old fashioned product advertising has been known to experiment with attach ads too. Let’s talk about if it’s worth taking a direct shot at your competitor.

On the surface, it seems like it could be a great idea. Your brand offers a better product at a better price, let’s tell everyone how superior we are! But tone is always key in the world of advertising. Coming off as smug or desperate is the last thing you want to be known for. The most classic case of this is the age old battle of Pepsi v Coke. Coke as always had a dominate market share in the soda business, and Pepsi has always tried to think of innovative ways to catch up. The Pepsi challenge in the 80’s is an example of this, and now there’s a campaign where they highlight their new app, making sure to note that Coke offers no such thing. In many cases, they could promote this idea in a way that works, but here it will most surely backfire, as it has with many other cases. A character in a new spot glibly adds in “at least you have the polar bears” to his Coke swilling friend. I’m sure your immediate impression is that Pepsi is coming off as arrogant and is unlikely to sway you away from Coke.

Another example is the recent campaign from Chobani. They are firmly planted behind other competitors in the yogurt world, yet they are now unveiling a campaign that takes shots at others for having artificial sweeteners and preservatives. A fine claim to be sure, but not the right tone for their position in the marketplace, coming off as desperate for attention.

There are ways to promote your product over a competitor in an effective way. Proudly claim the quality of yours and challenge a potential customer to try it for himself. That’s confidence, not arrogance, and a viewer will be able to tell the difference.

Until next time,

Zeke

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