Brand Rivalries: Who Wins?
Brand rivalry is nothing new. The words "Pepsi" and "Coke" still have the power to set off an endless debate as to which tastes better, which is sweeter, which is better for cleaning a car battery, etc.
However, something we're seeing that is new is what's being called "disruptive" marketing, where one brand very publicly calls out another specific name brand, and begins talking smack about that brand via social media, television ads, billboards, and blimps! If the challenged brand is game, the resulting back and forth can be very entertaining to witness. This very public, often very amusing, brand brawling is translating into increased sales for the victor.
If the challenged brand is game enough, consumers get to witness an entertaining back and forth. But brand brawling isn't just about the sport of the brawl - if well-played, it translates into big-time brand awareness (read: increased sales).
Taco Bell and McDonald's Ads Fight for the Breakfast Kingdom
Consider McDonald's and Taco Bell's recent efforts to rule the kingdom of cheap, drive-thru breakfast meals. Taco Bell made consumers wide-eyed with a commercial featuring a bunch of ordinary guys, each one with the real name "Ronald McDonald," talking about how much they love Taco Bell's new breakfast menu.
McDonald's was quick to respond with a photo of the branded Ronald McDonald, making nice with a lookalike of Taco Bell's mascot, accompanied with the message, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." Boom.
Not down for the count, Taco Bell's most recent television ad features an 80s-riffic dude singing, to the tune of "Old McDonald," lyrics that describe his younger years as a loyal egg McMuffin eater who has now decided it's time to leave behind his Loverboy posters and grow up, which apparently means making Taco Bell his first stop for breakfast on the way to work. Is the ad funny? Yes. Especially if you grew up watching Miami Vice and know all the lyrics to "The Kid is Hot Tonight."
We're looking for McDonald's counter-commercial. Hang tight.
Classic Brand Rivalries
Audi vs. BMW
This big-spend rivalry is legendary. If you don't remember, it started out with a smirking billboard from Audi, to which BMW cleverly responded:
After a few other rounds of witty billboard-banter, BMW won the victory:
Read the full, wonderful story over here.
Kit-Kat vs. Oreos
Well-executed rivalries are not always so bold. Surely you remember Kit Kat challenging Oreo to a game of tic-tac-toe via Twitter. Even though Oreo's response took the noncompetitive high road, the cookie maker still emerged as the clear winner.
The Real Winners
When companies turn competition into entertainment, they're fighting for consumers' attention. And who doesn't want two guys, two girls, two employers - or two brands - fighting for their attention?
When the dust settles, and one or the other brand is declared the victor, it's actually the consumers who win. So long as consumers continue to enjoy a ringside seat to each public brawl, brands are likely to continue staging these public scraps to the benefit of all.