Entertainment

Ok, We Need To Really Talk About The Underlying Issues Of "Brand Attack" Ads

Remember when Pepsi took a subtle jab at their rivals in the Coca Cola camp? The soft drink mogul created an advert placing them side by side with their competitor, although brand names were not displayed outright. Still, the consumers aren’t dumb. They know exactly who Pepsi is talking about and with this, proceeded to call Pepsi out for it.

Some called their idea “offensive” and they even accused Pepsi of image hijack, while others blatantly mentioned that this reinforced Pepsi as number 2 as compared to their double C competitor. The question is did Pepsi go too far? And what exactly distinguishes healthy competition from actual bashing of competitors?

In fact, Pepsi and Coke had their own game with the exact same image, showing exactly how you can battle each other with tact and class.

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Recently, Malaysia had its own social media fiasco over an advert by Nestlé.

Yet another example of a subtle brand attack, and predictably, the comment section for that Facebook post went nuts. Some called Nestlé out for being childish. Others urged Nestlé to improve their product instead of bashing other brands.

My question is, what’s wrong with Nestlé’s advertisement in the first place?

Have we all been so blinded by the advertisements we are bombarded with daily to not see that what Nestlé is doing is actually ultimately promoting healthy competition?

The fact that Nestlé chose to place their Bliss drinks alongside a supposed silhouette of Calpis meant that they had acknowledged Calpis as a valid competitor of theirs. And with the illustration of Pepsi, it is clear to see that Nestlé is not the first to compete. Everybody’s doing it, so why should the brand receive flak for it?

Image Credit: YouTube
Image Credit: YouTube

Malaysians would be privy of the long-running Dynamo ad which pits the detergent brand against a certain elusive brand X which could represent any brand under the sun, whether it’s Top, AJAX, Fab or perhaps none of them at all.

Brand X is a generic brand name and even Nestlé was tasteful enough not to pit their Bliss drink against a certain “C” brand. In fact the thing that gave netizens a clue that it was anything remotely close to resembling the Calpis brand at all, was the one-liner, “Not all drinks have real goodness of live cultures and real fruit juice like Nestle Bliss®”. That, along with the silhouette of the bottle.

Image Credit: JapanStyle
Image Credit: JapanStyle

And that is all it is.

A mere silhouette was able to set keyboard warriors off as they crack their knuckles and whip out a snarky comment or two. Fact of the matter is there are far more pressing issues that we could potentially unleash our keyboard warrior side to, but we clearly aren’t.

Don’t we see what is wrong here? Competition pits a group against another and the best brand, or individual wins. It has always been this way, and that is the nature of competition. Take for instance, a pack of animals or even in the workplace. Don’t we all compete for a prize or a promotion in one way or another?

In fact, if brands are fighting in the advertising and taking subtle jabs at each other, the response of the competitors often can draw crowd approval, if done with class and style.

For example, McDonald’s in France fired the first shot with this ad below.

mcdonalds-directions-billboard-hed-2016

Burger King rose to the challenge and replied with the video below.

Both companies took away good PR vibes from this campaign in showing good humour and fun.

The main takeaway is that if we can’t even take a little friendly competition among brands like the ones displayed by the likes of McDonalds, Pepsi and Nestlé, then how are we supposed to witness any form of progress at all? The great Gianni Versace sums it up nicely with her quote:

“It is nice to have valid competition; it pushes you to do better.”

Feature Image Credit: Nestle

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