Friday, May 2, 2008

Comparison Commercials

It was a big surprise to me when I came to United States that a commercial could directly specify a competing brand's name. In India, this is against law. So, arch rival brands, especially duopolies such as Coke and Pepsi, engage in showing the other brand with all the characteristics except the name and logo. They usually mimic the name and tweak the logo of the competing brand a bit, and make fun of the their product - making the experience ugly. The extent depends on how aggressive they want to take on the competitor. Needless to say, the competitor would retaliate. Often, it's a series going on. Funny thing is that people enjoy them mostly and there is lot of attention they gain. What else do advertisers care about!

While I find the direct comparison commercials (like in US) really a healthy way of promoting one's own product, I always wonder whether viewers would consider it as a too-aggressive and desperate approach, which might have effects on loyal customers having a high image on the brand. Also, to some extent, it unveils to the customer, the other options the viewers might not have known otherwise.

One comparison ad I still remember is of a Hyundai's car. It starts with showing all the nice features of a Toyota. Though all those features are nice to see, they are all extravagant - which is implied (subtle). At the end, they say that its nice to have a Toyota, but its nicer to have a Hyundai at almost half the cost.