Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Is naming names an effective strategy?


Conventional wisdom has always maintained that it is a bad idea to name your competitor outright in advertising, for fear that a consumer will remember the name of the competitive product rather than your own. It’s a valid concern since in most cases the brand doing the advertising is comparing themselves to the category leader.

But last year, Campbell’s decided to start the MSG wars with Progresso. Unfortunately for them, Progresso decided to fight back. (Wong, 2008) This has lead to a series of ads where each accuses the other of marketing unhealthy products. What has this accomplished? Well, in my case it made me more aware of the fact that all canned soup is loaded with chemicals and has turned me into a non-user of both.

Now comes word from Powerade that they intend to attack industry leader Gatorade head on with claims, backed by research, that Gatorade is an inferior method of hydration. (Zmuda, 2009)

Is this a good idea or bad? Do you think this will be an effective way to convert Gatorade users to Powerade users? Or is there a potential for a backlash here too?

Wong, E. (2008, October 8). Soup War Continues, Progresso Strikes Back. Retrived march 30, 2009 from

Zmuda, N. (2009, March 23). Gator Baiter: Powerade Jabs at Powerhouse. Retrived 3/25/09 from

1 comment:

  1. COMMENTS (5)
    Bradley A Giddens:
    It's a flashback to 1975: PepsiCo introduced the "Pespi Challenge" and took Coke head on in a very public campaign. Now it's Coke's turn to reciprocate. If you didn't already know, Coke owns Powerade and PepsiCo owns Quaker Oats who manufacturers Gatorade. Small world. At any rate, I think it should be an interesting battle (and uphill as far as Powerade is concerned) for majority, but it's worked successfully before so why not now? As far as public backlash against the two would depend on the amount of "mud" thrown about during the campaign. I would expect things to get a bit dirty though as times have changed considerably since 1975.
    Posted by Bradley A Giddens | March 30, 2009 1:07 PM

    Posted on March 30, 2009 13:07
    Emy Kanashiro:
    I always think there's a huge risk when a brand decides to openly attack its competitors. It's a risk that could have a great pay off. If this works well for Powerade, they could achieve their goal of converting Gatorade users into Powerade users. On the other hand, they have an equal possibility of the campaign working against them, which means they could lose costumers, credibility and loyalty. Is this risk worth it? Apparently for some brands it is. In my opinion, advertising is such a strong medium and there are so many different ways to market a brand, that it should not be necessary to outwardly attack competitors. If your brand is strong enough to stand alone, then why go to these measures to gain followers. I think it's a cheap shot. If you can't come up with good ways of marketing your product, then maybe you should work on your product some more. I do believe every product can be successfully advertised without the need of attacking others. With an excellent creative team, anything is possible.
    Posted by Emy Kanashiro | March 31, 2009 11:05 AM

    Posted on March 31, 2009 11:05
    Meredith Darts:
    Personally, I have never thought that the "negative campaign" is an effective tool. By pointing out your competitors' weaknesses, you are leaving yourself open to a similar attack. In those cases, you/the company has no control over what your competitor is going to say about you. I agree with Prof. Lehrer that the Campbell's vs. Progresso battle did more in making me aware of the health concerns of canned soups than the actual products themselves. I rarely buy either product now, sorry Campbell's. I recently saw an ad comparing the Chevrolet Traverse to the Honda Pilot highlighting the Chevy's superior cargo space. I feel that it will only be a matter of time until Honda pulls a statistic from somewhere and say that the Chevy is inferior in gas mileage or safety or whatever claim they create.
    In my opinion, these comparisons truly work when there is innovation and the consumer can definitively see the differences - i.e. dial-up vs. broadband, or the VCR vs. the DVD. When the products themselves are relatively similar, I think personal preference and taste win in the long run, rather than "inferior methods of hydration."
    Posted by Meredith Darts | March 31, 2009 1:55 PM

    Posted on March 31, 2009 13:55
    Elizabeth Berwitt:
    I have to agree with Emy. I do not think attacking the competition is the best way to increase sales. Even though people are claiming that Powerade is is more hydrating, I see no reason to start drinking Powerade because I am fully satisified with how hydrated I feel from Gatorade. Therefore, this is not an effective approach in my book and it did not convince me to switch brands. However, I think that Powerade would be able to gain some Gatorade consumers by emphasizing that they now have "Powerade Zero" which is calorie-free. Since Gatorade does not yet have a calorie-free drink, I think that this would be an effective way to recruit some Powerade consumers.
    Posted by Elizabeth Berwitt | April 2, 2009 10:00 AM

    Posted on April 2, 2009 10:00
    Michael Udell:
    I think you have to look at what Vitamin Water did to take a share away from Gatorade. Instead of associating themselves with every athlete they can find (Gatorade is with Garnett, Jeter, Bolt, Manning), Vitamin used one athlete (David Wright, age 26-27) and one rap star (50 Cent). Instead of being the sports drink that will make you perform better and keep you hydrated, Vitamin Water became the sports drink that was cool and became more attractive to younger men and women.
    I think if Vitamin Water went after Gatorade, they would have failed. Interesting enough, Gatorade decided to hit back by calling themselves "G", putting "cool" slogans on their product and change their ads. I'm interested to see how this works out for "G" after this massive overreaction.
    Posted by Michael Udell | April 7, 2009 2:20 PM