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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

Last updated on: May 23, 2011 11:43 IST

Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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"OMG, you look so stupid in this video"; "Why are you tagged in this video?" These is the latest series of spam wall posts on Facebook. And everyone is wondering if this is Google's way of attacking Facebook.

This would not be the first time that a brand is attacking another. It's these strategies that have given rise to terms like combative advertising or comparative advertising or ambush marketing.

In short, this modern-day guerrilla warfare leaves us wondering that there is nothing as clear as black and white in the murky world of business.

Here are few brands that have tired to take a shot at each other on various occasions:

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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Facebook versus Google

Last week, The Daily Beast, reported that Facebook hired a PR firm to pitch negative Google stories to the media - specifically to target Google's privacy standards.

The PR firm, Burson-Marsteller, chartered out a strategy saying Google was invading users' privacy. The agency also offered to 'help an influential blogger' write a post, which they promised to get placed in The Washington Post, Politico and The Huffington Post.

At the heart of the matter is, Facebook - for many users - is the new dot-com. This was once Google's mantle.

Now, with Social Circle, Google is attempting to regain its position by eating into the social pie that is largely occupied by Facebook.

Thus, the war begins.

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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Microsoft versus Apple

The Facebook versus Google, brings us to the famous Bill Gates versus Steve Jobs war: Microsoft versus Apple. The news about Microsoft versus Apple always raises core interest among users.

Microsoft has pretty much been on the top, since people started using PCs. Their position has not been deterred in the tech industry, despite the rising number of companies.

But, the only company who has managed to shake the giant or give stiff competition to Microsoft, is Apple.

And, with Apple's 'i' range of products, the company has spelled the doom for its rivals. Ask the Apple fanboys and they will only be happy to vouch for it.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Taking a look at the market share, in the desktop operating system business, Microsoft holds almost 92 per cent share of the market. While, Mac OS X's share has varied between 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent.

In tablet sphere Apple enjoys an undaunted position. It has recorded 87.4 per cent share of the worldwide tablet market last year.

Last year, Apple achieved milestone as for the first time - Apple's corporate value surpassed Microsoft's, making it the world's largest technology company.

With this, consumers are waiting to see the next episode of Microsoft vs. Apple. So, who will it be this time - Apple or Microsoft? All we can say is, wait and watch.

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Photographs: Reuters
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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Coke versus Pepsi

It all started with a very basic question, 'Can anyone tell the difference', which went on to other ragging questions like, 'Which is better, Coca-Cola or Pepsi Cola?' The 100-year-old war still continues.

In the 1940s and 1950s, professor Nicholas H. Pronko and colleagues at the University of Wichita, Kansas, conducted a series of experiments. They wrote five studies that brought rigor, sophistication, and cachet to the testing of Coke/Pepsi taste- discrimination.

Pronko's final Coke/Pepsi paper appeared in 1958. However, this study has been questioned over time.

Till the final result is out, these two rival brands are determined to out-do each other through their marketing campaigns, advertising strategies and brand ambassadors. So, one may wish you with 'Have a Pepsi Day', while the other will say 'Open Happiness'.

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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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HUL versus P&G

"Mirror, mirror, on the wall Who is the whitest of them all?" can best define the age-old war between HUL and P&G's washing powder brands.

Take the case of last year's advertisement war between these two rivals - A Rin commercial showed visuals of P&G's Tide Naturals, drawing direct comparisons between the two on the parameter of superior whiteness.

Even though the ad was eventually taken off air following P&G moving the courts, the campaign still remains fresh in consumers' minds.

Now, it's for us to see who makes the next move?

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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Nestle versus Cadbury

Cadbury has managed to hold a strong position across all the markets, but Nestle is not far behind. Nestle has managed to keep Cadbury on its toes.

They have kept the audience engaged with their communication and advertising strategies. So, if Cadbury is stirring an interest with 'Khaane ke baad mithe me kuch meetha ho jaye', Nestle is telling its audience to take a break and enjoy life -- 'Mana ki life bohot busy hai, par kabhi kabhi break lo. Kit Kat khao. Zindagi sayad apko kuch haseen dikha de'.

But, like most brand wards, Nestle and Cadbury locked horns, too. This time it was over the Pehli Tarikh campaign. Nestle directly took on Cadbury Dairy Milk's ad campaign, Aaj Pehli Tarikh Hai to promote its brand Munch.

With the tagline Sirf Pehli Tarikh Ko Nahin, Kabhi Bi Kha Sakte Hai, Nestle's 'combative advertising' campaign directly mocked Cadbury's brand proposition.

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Marketing Wars: Attack of the brands

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Horlicks versus Complan

The health-drink war, between the two brands didn't turn out to be so healthy. These brands make up for an interesting case, because it's not often that the Supreme Court steps in to resolve advertising wars.

But this time round, the country's apex court did exactly the same, when it rejected GlaxoSmithKline Consumer's plea to stay the Delhi High Court division bench's order that suspended its single judge's decision to restrain Heinz from airing or publishing ads that disparaged it.

The case is as follows. Both players compete in the health food drink space with Horlicks and Complan, respectively. Like every health drink, these brands promise that kids will benefit from their product.

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This was all fine, until one brand made a direct comparison. The ad went as: Complan consistently said kids can get taller with its 23 vital nutrients.

So, this time round, GSK (Horlicks) hit back with its 'Taller, Stronger, Sharper' campaign, which said that kids could not only get taller, but also stronger in body and sharper in mind.

This was followed by a series of ads that spoke how this could be achieved at a price lower than competition.

What makes it even interesting is that Complan has never been an aggressive player compared to the market leader Horlicks.

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Photographs: Reuters
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BMW versus Audi

Comparative adverts or combat advertising is not a new concept in the automobile sector. Those who love following brand wars and advertising strategies, these advertisements make up for a interesting read.

The recent BMW vs. Audi billboard campaign surely falls under that category. The billboard war takes place in one of the top states when it comes to luxury  car sales: California.

On the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Beverly Glen Boulevard, Audi has put up some billboards showing the all new Audi A4 along with the headline: 'Your move, BMW'. BMW took on the challenge and entered a virtual game.

BMW showed off its M3 Coupe with a tagline that read Checkmate!

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Maruti Suzuki versus Hyundai Motor India

In India, the automobile war is taken to a new level. Why not? Especially, when Indian consumers are spoilt for choice.

The most direct marketing battle was between Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai Motor India (in 2009).

Hyundai first launched a critical marketing drive against Maruti's Ritz, using findings and comments made by European auto magazines and auto experts.

In an apparent reply to Hyundai's negative marketing campaign against its model, Ritz, launched a mocking attack on the Korean company in an advertisement showing Hyundai's best-selling compact car, the i10, in poor light.

Prior to this, Maruti had strongly objected to Hyundai's advertising brochure, labelled as "Xing ahead of the Swift" and had also asked for an apology, terming the campaign as "false, misleading and deceptive".

So, which one is the king though? It's tough to say.

For now, it all seems like fun and games.



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