Brands go negative, will it pay?


The New York Times ran a story today “Dueling Brands Pick Up Where Politicians Leave Off “. It highlights a recent advertising trend to run negative ads against a company’s competitor to better position products.

Brands that are highlighted include: Dunkin’ Donuts, Apple and the response from Microsoft, Campbell’s Soup and the response from Progresso.

Below is Dunkin’…

McDonald’s has done a similar tactic also with Starbuck’s in the sights.

Will these ads pay?

In the short-term, most likely as consumer spending tightens. The long-term is likely to just lead to increased rivalry in an already tough category (coffee, soup, computers). True differentiation and leadership by a brand is needed to sustain an advantage. The great thing about Apple’s “comparative” ads are that they truly have differentiation in the product and experience and that is what was highlighted as different and exciting. Has it outlived its usefulness? Yes. Time to innovate again…

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One thought on “Brands go negative, will it pay?

  1. Welcome (back) to the blogosphere, Alan. Great effort.

    I also noticed the subtle differences between Apple and Progresso risk/reward calculations, given the similarities in their ad strategies. Apple seems to be sticking to it’s zero-sum strategy, which makes sense — but I’m not sure it makes sense for Progresso, with so much ‘organic’ competition, so to speak.

    Interesting stuff.

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