For this post, the focus is on: should firms use comparative advertising to drive their business?

Before continuing, we turn to Investopedia for a description of comparative advertising:

Through comparative advertising, a company’s product or service presents itself as superior when compared to a competitor’s. Such a campaign may involve printing a side-by-side comparison of the features of a company’s products next to those of its competitor. It may also feature comparison based on value or cost. Typically, the competing product is shown in a disparaging light. In addition, comparative advertising may contrast products or services directly or indirectly. And they may take either a positive or negative tone. However, negativity tends to be far more common. Comparisons may entail a single attribute or multiple attributes.

To learn more about advertising, take a look at these posts:


Do’s and Don’ts: Should Firms Use Comparative Advertising

Of late, comparative advertising has picked up steam in some product categories. According to experts, this approach may work or be detrimental.

In addressing this topic, Ad Age’s E. J. Schulz offers these observations:

“The fast-food industry is waging a chicken sandwich war. Bud Light and Coors Light are embroiled in ‘corngate.’ And Kind and Cliff keep trading shots in a snack-bar skirmish. They fight over whose ingredients are healthier. These are among the many brand battles raging in what has become an attack-ridden marketing environment. Comparative advertising is a tried-and-true tactic. As a result, more brands go at each other’s throats to stand out among the clutter. Tim Calkins, a Northwestern marketing professor, suggests marketers are part of a larger cultural shift to more aggressive behavior. And that includes the political arena. ‘Our country has become so polarized and so harsh.’ And that also ‘affects how brands market themselves.””

“Whether marketing attacks are effective relates to how they are handled. “Consumers say they don’t like comparative or negative ads. But nevertheless they do work,’ says Kit Yarrow. A psychologist who studies younger generations. ‘Generally, the percentage turned off by a comparative ad equals those positively influenced. However, there are so many caveats.”

To learn several do’s and don’ts from Schulz, click the image.

Should Firms Use Comparative Advertising
Popeyes is providing a masterclass in battle banter. Credit: Popeye’s via Twitter


3 Replies to “Should Firms Use Comparative Advertising”

  1. Comparative advertising should be done as long is ethical meaning, like the company are not seriously dissing the other company nut as a professional way. Many companies like At&t and t-mobile, Mcdonalds and Burger King, Amazon vs Walmart uses comparative advertisement. Majority of the time the advertisement are filled with humour and laughs. It brings the creativity of the company on how they can lure more customer based on the advertising its pretty creative!

  2. I think for small and new companies, comparative advertising may be a good strategy. By comparing new-comer’s cutting-edge product with big players’ existing product, not only will consumers rise awareness, but also will they be likely to try the new product. I remember watching this kind of TV commercials, which are about fast moving consumer goods such as detergent, shampoo and diapers. If such a comparison has the potential to win market share and create a comparative advantage, I think it will be necessary for companies to do so, since nowadays, it is difficult to be different.

  3. Comparative advertising is an effective tactic for both parties. As per the above example, Popeye’s response to Wendys created a thread on Twitter. Users are now able to see what both parties have posted. This is mutually beneficial for both companies as people will debate about which chicken is better, Popeyes or Wendys. It is an effective form of advertising as it does not cost anything and causes widespread word-of-mouth.

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