Advertising is the process of creating messages that will increase your brand awareness.
These messages can have various purposes, such as: B. attracting potential customers, promoting upcoming sales and bringing new products to market. Most ads focus on one company, but a unique type called comparative advertising focuses on two.
When done correctly, comparative ads can successfully convince consumers to do business with one brand over another. However, if companies do something wrong, they may be in the middle of a legal battle. With this in mind, the use of comparative advertising requires care and attention.
In this post, we explain what comparative advertising is, give real-life examples, explain the legality of using the strategy, and present advantages and disadvantages to help you make the best decision for your business.
What is comparative advertising?
Comparative advertising is a technique where a product or service from your company is superior to a similar product or service from a competitor.
These ads can directly or indirectly mention a competitor, but consumers can usually use product features and clues to determine who the other company is. Comparison Ads also provide customers with a direct point of comparison between two companies by allowing them to view products and evaluate features at the same time instead of searching for information from multiple sources.
While they may be two companies, it is important to note that one company is creating the ad in their favor, so the tone sways in their favor. However, companies must not make false statements about their competitors in order to present factual information to consumers.
There is no set template for comparison ads. They can be digital or printed, videos or pictures, humorous or serious. Many companies take advantage of the viral culture of the 21st century and share ads on social media platforms and use the traffic from likes, retweets, followers and shares.
Comparative advertising examples
In the following, some practical examples of comparative advertising are presented to help you understand the practice.
Popeyes is an American fast food chain that serves fried chicken. Chick-fil-A is their direct competitor in the industry, known for being closed on Sundays.
Popeyes took advantage of this and created a comparative advertisement emphasizing that the restaurant is open on Sundays and can serve consumers any day of the week, especially while Chick-fil-A has a day off. The video is shown below.
Verizon, a wireless operator, used the same actor as the face of its commercials for nine years. Sprint, an industry competitor, poached the actor in 2016 and used his move to his service to take a unique approach to comparative advertising.
In the video below, Sprint is basically saying, If a longtime, loyal Verizon actor can switch to Sprint, why can’t you switch too? The company positions itself as a qualified competitor by stating that its cellular service has a 1% difference in coverage than Verizon.
Casper is a well-known mattress brand that has managed to generate significant hype and brand recognition for its products.
Cocoon by Sealy, a direct competitor, uses comparative advertising on search engine results pages (SERPs) to target Casper’s audience. The company placed a paid ad on a SERP for the term Casper Mattress (see below) entitled “Don’t Buy the Hype, Buy Cocoon and Save Hundreds”.
Cocoon claims that its competitor is only a competitor because people buy for the brand hype. When a curious consumer clicks on the ad, they learn that Cocoon has mattresses that are worthwhile because they promote a peaceful sleep and are affordable (see image below).
Adidas is a well-known sportswear brand that is only surpassed by Nike. Adidas made a comparison video (see below) of a person walking in the desert wearing Nike shoes.
Runners know that it is difficult to run outdoors. Most impressive in the video, however, is that the cameraman wearing a 50 pound camera can keep up with the runner for wearing Adidas shoes.
Kroger is a grocery chain that published a full-page comparison ad against a local competitor (Publix) in a Tennessee newspaper.
The ad shown in the image below has two long receipts from both stores that are the same length, but the cost was cheaper and the savings at Kroger were higher. Essentially, the brand is saying that even if you buy the same products, Kroger offers lower prices, savings, and extra perks that consumers can’t find at Publix.
Bounty is a paper towel brand that created a comparative ad to demonstrate the benefits of using their paper towels over the leading generic brand. While not explicitly naming a competitor, worry about whoever it is by calling it a “common brand” because they are not as good at cleaning up clutter as Bounty.
Basically, it says that Bounty is premium and every other option is just regular.
While all of these companies used comparative advertising, it is important to understand that it is only that – comparative. Every company believes this is the best option but says that comparison does not make false or misleading claims.
However, because the line can be vague, there are laws in many countries that dictate how comparative ads may and may not be used.
Comparative advertising law
The following explains the comparative advertising laws from three different countries and the explicit language used to explain what advertisers are allowed to do.
United States Comparative Advertising Act
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers from corporate fraud, fraud, and manipulation. It also protects companies from unfair practices and activities by competitors.
Ruling on comparative advertising, the FTC said, “Comparative advertising, when truthful and not misleading, is a source of vital information for consumers and helps them make rational purchasing decisions. Comparative advertising encourages product improvement and innovation and can result in lower prices in the market. “
In short, the FTC supports comparative advertising as it benefits consumers by providing a comprehensive view of the product range. What they will not tolerate is advertisements that demean and deceive the competition in order to trick consumers into doing business with one company over another. Businesses can use the FTC scheme to file claims if they feel they are being discredited.
Australia Comparative Advertising Act
The Australian Competition and Consumers Commission says “Companies can use comparative advertising to directly promote the superiority of their products over others.” Like US law, businesses must follow general advertising best practices to avoid misleading or misleading consumers into doing business with them.
Hong Kong Comparative Advertising Act
Hong Kong does not have any specific legislation restricting comparative advertising. However, the Commercial Description Regulation prohibits false commercial descriptions and misleading or incomplete informational advertising, and the Hong Kong Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies has the power to investigate violations.
All in all, regardless of your location, understanding the laws and regulations governing comparative advertising is important so you don’t find yourself in the middle of a legal battle.
Advantages and disadvantages of comparative advertising
The reality of using comparative advertising depends on your unique business needs.
Suppose you have an industry competitor who owns most of the market share. In this case, comparative advertising can be beneficial as it lets your target market know that there are other options. If you’re a new business, comparative advertising can also help create awareness of the fact that you exist.
However, if you cannot support your superiority claims and your advertisements seem insulting rather than comparative, you can lose business. As mentioned above, the overall decision to go for comparative advertising depends on your goals.
We’ve compiled a list of comparative pros and cons of advertising that can help you make a comprehensive decision about whether to choose to use the strategy.
Explicit emphasis on products.
Comparative advertising specifically focuses on a single product or feature that makes you better than a competitor. This is a helpful advertisement for your products in general.
Even if you don’t influence your audience, they’ll become aware of its direct specs, benefits, and features.
You can take legal action.
As mentioned above, many countries have laws protecting consumers and other businesses from comparative advertisements.
If you fail to comply with legal requirements, your competitors may take you to court, which incurs significant legal costs. If you are a well-known brand, publications are likely to report it, which can also negatively impact your reputation.
Comparative marketing can help you raise awareness about your business, especially if you are new to the industry or a small business that can hold its own against a competitor.
Mentioning her name can help you get to know her market share and a whole new audience that may be ready to make the switch.
Can cause confusion about brand names.
Just as comparative ads can create brand awareness, they can also create confusion.
Mentioning multiple competitors in the same ad can leave consumers unsure which company offers the features they prefer, or which company has proven to be the best option to meet their needs.
Gain new followers and gain new customers.
Comparative advertising can help you gain new followers and new customers, especially if these ads are widespread and placed in high traffic areas of consumer traffic.
For example, many companies in the United States create humorous comparison ads that they want to share during the Super Bowl because they know the event will have a significant audience.
You can lose integrity and look bad to your audience.
Suppose your ads do not comply with the comparative advertising rules of your country and vilify your competitors in the strongest possible way. If so, you might look bad to your target audience. This is the opposite effect that you are trying to achieve.
Even if you obey the law, some people don’t appreciate ads where two companies compete against each other. It’s best to understand your target audience first before creating and sharing comparative ads.
Let consumers know what is important.
Because comparative ads focus on a specific feature or experience associated with a product or service, educate consumers about the factors to consider when making purchasing decisions.
Essentially, you are showing them that they should be considering more than just the brand name of the product they are interested in.
Comparative advertising can help your business grow
If you choose to use it as part of your company’s marketing strategy, be aware of the comparative advertising laws in your country, make sure that you are benefiting the consumer and that you are not simply belittling your competitor and claiming superiority.
When done successfully, you can gain significant brand awareness, increase sales, and even gain a higher proportion of your industry market share and position yourself as an industry leader.