Top 5 Historic Brand Wars Into Advertising
Updated: May 10
We know competition among brands is heavy in the marketplace. Every strong brand has a strong competitor that doesn’t let the other brand rest.
(For e.g; Apple vs Samsung, Pepsi vs Coke, McDonald’s vs Burger King, etc.)
In the traditional market, moving ahead was all about gaining more customers and market share compared to its competitors. While in the modern age, competition has become so fierce that many times we get to see their rivalry in their ads too.
There are a plethora of advertising mediums on which we get to see the brands challenging each other on the front foot - from posters to billboard ads, to videos, emails and social media. When brands are out of their mind to bring anything new on the table, comparative advertising goes a long way for them.
Comparative advertising is often considered as one of the most brutal mediums for brand rivalries where they do the direct comparison of each other’s products. Once it's begun, it depends on opposition to either fire back or ignore its competitor.
However, there are some companies that have not kept calm for decades. Here we have compiled some of the intense advertising wars ever waged between two companies.
1. Pepsi and Coke
We have seen this historic brand’s rivalry since decades and there are many good ad wars that we can point out, but the most widely known was the marketing skirmish between the two was the Pepsi Challenge in 1975.
Pepsi celebrated its triumph in the taste test for the years, which prompted Coca-cola’s new Coke debacle in 1986. Since then they have taken the fight to everywhere and fought over loyalty programs, raged social media and much more.
2. McDonald’s and Burger King
Burger King was bought by Pillsbury in 1967 and after it was bought, they started launching direct attacks which goes on today as well.
You might have seen or heard - “It’s whopper, not a burger” in Burger King ads. Whopper is considered as one of the strongest USP for them and they have constantly blown McDonalds since decades.
A campaign in history called Burger King’s whopper virgin’s campaign where they put the two brands’ core products - the whopper and the big mac - to a taste test by people in remote places around the world. Though it turned out to be a huge failure, not because of the response from the McDonalds. The audience perceived the ad as exploitative and racist and the campaign eventually failed.
3. Apple and Microsoft
From Pirates of Silicon Valley to its constant coverage by publications all over the world, Apple and Microsoft’s rivalry is very well documented.
There was a commercial by Apple that goes - “Hi, I am a Mac” and “Hi, I am a PC” is what Microsoft responded. That turned out to be one of the most discussed and viral campaigns across the world.
Obviously, we can't forget the fierce rivalry they had but they also helped each other at the times of trouble. We remember the times when Microsoft invested $1.8 billion in Apple lately after the arrival of Steve Jobs after being fired from his own company .
4. Sega and Nintendo
The war between Sega and Nintendo isn’t seen anymore but once it was a cut-throat rivalry between the two companies.
“Genesis does, what Nintendon’t” - was a very straight forward tagline by Genesis in its attempt to win the battle of advertising. It sort of worked and gave sega a space to compete heavily with gaming legend Nintendo.
But the war between the two went far deeper than that one campaign.
The console wars between Sega and Nintendo lasted from the 8-bit era of the 1980's all the way to the 32-bit era of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Nintendo emerged the victor, but later on new competitors arrived and was brought down from its top spot by Sony and Microsoft.
5. Audi and BMW
Audi and BMW are long term German rivals and they have always been at each other’s throat, chasing definite superiority and power.
Audi and BMW do not just fight into the racetrack but also into the world's biggest auto magazines for advertisements, but a mid-2000's Santa Monica billboard advertisement battle managed to take the rivalry even further.
The whole ad battle began with an Audi billboard that poked fun at BMW's chess tournament. After BMW's response it went online into social media, with Audi calling on its followers on Facebook to come up with more captions.
Day by day competition is increasing and it’s not just about serving people with the products but now advertising is also about entertaining the audience. Brands cannot get the attention freely, they have to earn it through their witty and impressive ads.
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