Competing Brands Plan Their Attack

Advertisers and agencies alike better gear up and get ready to defend themselves – attack ads are on the rise.  And not only are they a popular trend for competing brands, attack ads have also been effective in gaining market share for various products.

Take the Dominos campaign against Subway for example – Dominos commercials claimed that their subs had beaten Subway in a national taste test, causing Subway to send a cease-and-desist letter. Dominos didn’t just ignore the request, they burned the letter in the next Subway-bashing commercial. Unethical? Maybe.  But, Dominos reported a 1% same-store-sales gain for the quarter, their “first positive domestic comp in quite some time,” according to CFO Wendy Beck.

Campbell Soup reported a rise in sales after their attack-ads against rival Progresso.  However, Progresso ran some of its own negative advertising, claiming that their soup was “healthier and better tasting” in a recent campaign, and also reported a positive gain in share. So, strangely enough, it would appear that all this negativity is a plus for all involved.

Nescafe is jumping on the bandwagon as well, and vying to defend their status against instant coffee newcomer – Starbucks.  And Nescafe is not taking the campaign lightly; their new outdoor campaign directly targets Starbucks by name, and points out the significant price difference between the two brands.  One may wonder though, if Starbucks’ new product will see some benefit from the awareness Nescafe is creating for them…

Although attack ads are certainly not “new” (how many Mac/PC ads have there been already?), we are sure to see more of them in the near future. As it stands now, the future mantra for products may be “attack or be attacked.”