As a regular Internet user, I come across multiple ads. When I started thinking that digital ads are not attractive enough now to grab visitors’ attention, one ad popped up on my screen and changed my point of view. I think it’s worth discussing because this ad’s marketing strategy impressed me.

Here’s the ad I am talking about:

Brand Strategy: An Analysis of an Ad Attacking the Competing Brand

While analyzing an ad, you consider its color, font, size, and many more things. What if everything is on point but the ad is still not getting enough attention? It happens because many advertisers don’t use the right strategy and technique while making ads. Intelligent and creative work always overshadows hard work. So, you must think about using the right strategy to make visitors pause to look at the ad.

Comparative advertising, also known as “comparison advertising,” is one of the best advertising strategies in which a brand compares itself with its competitors through the ad directly or indirectly. The ad above is a true example of comparative advertising. This strategy is further divided into “superiority claim” and “parity claim.” A superiority claim is one in which one brand claims its products or services are better than its competitor. On the other hand, parity claim is when the brand compares its products or services to others in the marketplace, claiming that its products are as good as the competitors. This ad falls into the former category, that is, “superiority claim.”

 Moreover, there are multiple ways of calling out a competitor through a digital ad. For instance, some advertisers just cut to the chase, declare a never-ending war, use friendly humor, or tout the record. In the reference ad, BMW directly calls out Mercedes by using its logo in the image. Other than that, the text “Speed up to see us” sounds more like friendly humor. This strategy seems to be working in favor of BMW as this ad got the attention of a lot of consumers.

The other question is, “when is the right time to attack a competitor?” You must play safe even while attacking your competitor to avoid disastrous consequences. A lot of advertisers use “comparative advertising” under certain situations. Here are some examples: 

  • It’s the only way they can see to expand their market
  • They have something to say that their competitors won’t
  • The competition is fading
  • They have a unique approach that their competitors don’t have
  • The competitor is stalled
  • They want to create an alternative for the audience
  • They want to counterattack

In this reference digital ad, the advertiser seems to have a different approach to projecting the authenticity of “BMW” by quoting, “Behind every authentic brand, there is a more authentic one.” It is the correct technique and appropriate reason for a brand like BMW.

The other best practice of comparative advertising is “comparing something the consumers care about.” The audience’s immediate response shouldn’t be like, “Who cares?” So, if you want your campaign to be successful, make sure your claim is based on something that matters. Like in this ad, BMW talks about “authenticity” and “speed,” two crucial things consumers care about when buying a car.

Comparative advertising has both a good and bad side. Brands get sued by the competitor’s brand or its loyal customers for using this strategy. So, one question that might come into everybody’s mind is this: “Is comparative advertising legal?” The short answer is yes. Meanwhile, the long answer is that it is legal as long as you’re not misleading the consumer. It has specific guidelines that every brand must follow before using this strategy.

 Comparative advertising is risky as well. Every brand that aims to use this strategy must be ready to face retaliation. Some brands are daring enough to intentionally pick up the fight and keep themselves ready for a counterattack. 

The other risk involved is that the brand using comparative advertising might look like a bully. Consumers are not used to seeing negativity in digital ads about products or services. It might make the consumers think, “Was that even necessary?” or “Is there any inferiority complex?” But again, it depends on how big a brand is. If the brand is as big as BMW and the competitor is equally strong as Mercedes, it won’t make the brand look like a bully or that it has some inferiority complex. 

Other most well-known comparative ads of this kind are between Pepsi and Coke, Mac and PC, and Burger King and McDonald’s. In this case, when both brands are equally solid and big, people don’t care who wins the fight as long as they enjoy it.

So, this ad is the perfect example of comparative advertising as it uses the best practices to ensure the strategy doesn’t backfire. However, it might not work the same way for other brands. So, every brand must know which strategy suits it to get more eyeballs on its digital ads without getting involved in any risk or trouble.