Julian Gratton

When advertising becomes the battleground between brands

All’s fair in love, war and advertising. And don’t some Brands know it. Ever since Pepsi and Coca-Cola came out they’ve been at each other’s throats on TV, in the press and through Celebs… all in the quest to be regarded as the No.1 soft drinks brand in the world.

All’s fair in love, war and advertising. And don’t some Brands know it. Ever since Pepsi and Coca-Cola came out they’ve been at each other’s throats on TV, in the press and through Celebs… all in the quest to be regarded as the No.1 soft drinks brand in the world.

Yet Pepsi and Coke are not the only companies to take the battle from the Boardroom and place it firmly in the hands of their marketing teams. Here are a few examples of brands that have gone on the attack in the aim of increasing sales and loyalty.

Apple gets a taste of its own medicine

Apple is well known for possessing an element of class in the design and functionality of its products. So it was a strange decision by Apple to attack the traditional PC in a series of adverts that were fronted by John Hodgman and Justin Long in the US (and a few other countries) and by Robert Webb and David Mitchell in the UK.

The campaign, whilst a success, drew some interesting comments, especially from Seth Stevenson from Slate magazine who commented that: “isn’t smug superiority (no matter how affable and casually dressed) a bit off-putting as a brand strategy?”

And also Charlie Brooker who stated that the choice of Mitchell and Webb (because of their Peep Show comedy series), was an unusual choice when you consider that: “Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur… So when you see the ads, you think, ‘PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers.”

So you would have thought that Samsung would have learnt from Apple’s mistake before they aired a series of adverts in the US attacking the Apple iPhone. In the ‘Grad Party’ advert, only middle-aged parents use iPhones whilst the young cool kids all use Samsung.

Not wanting to be left out, Nokia soon followed suit with a series of adverts showing how their phones are better than the iPhone 5. Sadly neither of these campaigns involve anything truly creative, which is a bit of a disappointment. At least Apple’s adverts are always enjoyable to watch and don’t feel like infomercials.

Kelloggs picks a fight with ALDI

‘Like brands only cheaper’ is the message ALDI has been conveying to consumers for quite a while now in a series of charming adverts created by McCann Manchester.

In one of their many adverts, ALDI took on Special K and poked fun at the red swimsuit wearing model. So in response Kelloggs decided to fight back and released an online advert that takes a swipe at the Supermarket… which is a bit strange when Kelloggs recently struck up a deal with ALDI to provide own-label products.

Kellogg’s spokeswoman Louise Thompson Davies said; “The Aldi low fat cereal ad epitomizes the whole concept of copycat own brand versions of branded products – in a very clever way.

“They say imitation is the highest form of flattery and our internet spoof is a light hearted way to bring our new recipe to life and highlight the point of difference against these products and show Special K has a sense of humour.

SodaStream goes too far for Clearcast, Coke, Pepsi and CBS
Ever since going public in 2010, SodaStream has steadily been increasing its share of the global soft drinks market. Part of SodaStream’s strategy is to promote the environmental sustainability through not using so many plastic bottles and the health benefits as SodaStream only uses natural sugar or Stevia.

Their adverts have not only upset Pepsi and Coke (who have resorted to legal action), but they have also fallen victim to being pulled from TV by CBS who refused to let a SodaStream advert air during the 2013 Superbowl – Pepsi and Coke are big advertisers on CBS.

The below advert was also banned by Clearcast, who stated that; “The ad could be seen to tell people not to go to supermarkets and buy soft drinks, instead help to save the environment by buying a SodaStream. We thought it was denigration of the bottled drinks market.”

A bottled drinks market that spends far more on advertising and programme sponsorship than SodaStream ever will in the UK!

Was Mother wrong about ‘Saying something nice?’

At a time when the economy is still suffering and the marketplace is as competitive as ever, brands are looking for any excuse to get one over on their competitors… and if you are Brand A who has an edge over Brand B then why not advertise the fact!

Advertising purists would probably tell you that a good advert should just convey the features or benefits of a brand, product or service in an interesting creative way. Without having to point out the flaws in the other guy!

A few years ago I would have agreed. But with the age of social media, going to war against your competitors and blatantly having some fun in the process has given the method a real shot in the arm… and judging by the response in the news and on social media, consumers absolutely love a playground spat between two corporate giants.

As an example, take a look at the ongoing advertising war between BMW and Audi. Individually the advertising is nothing special… but collectively it’s clear that the ongoing game of one-upmanship is enjoyed by the brains behind both brands and if it gets people talking, sharing and choosing sides then what’s the harm!