The Effectiveness of Comparative Promotion Often Depends On What Customers Know

Comparative advertising, where one company pits its product against a product offered by another company, is likely one of the oldest forms of advertising.  Typically, with this method, the advertising company touts the benefits its product offers compared to a key competitor.  Many times these ads make no attempt to conceal the identity of the targeted competitor, often using a side-by-side comparison.  One of the most famous are the old Pepsi Challenge commercials that take on Coke, with a more recent examples being price comparison ads by Wal-Mart and Progressive Insurance.  

But other times, the comparison is subtle with an advertisement not specifically mentioning the competitor by name.  Instead, the promotion utilizes clearly identifiable elements, such as the advertiser comparing its product to the “leading brand” or showing the competitor’s package but without displaying the product’s name.  For example, the current advertising campaign run by DirecTV takes aim at cable companies without mentioning names.  Because these promotions are not directed at specific competitors, the impact may be somewhat lessened as the target audience may not easily understand the comparison.  However, by not mentioning the competitor by name, there is also less chance the competitor will respond with their own comparative ad.

Today we see another example of a comparative promotion that does not mention the competitor by name.  According to this New York Times story, the promotion, in the form of a YouTube video, is from Netflix, and it takes a jab at Amazon which, as we previously posted, is testing the use of drones for order delivery.  Of course, if you were not aware of Amazon’s plans this video may just seem funny but not actually convey the message that is intended.


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