Sneaky Sneaky

I’ve always wondered what makes the US market so different to ours that they are comfortable with comparitive advertising, whereas South Africa is not.

Is it that our brands are too precious, our media owners too nervous, our advertisers and creatives too cautious (read small balls)? Would the general public be happy for a big, rich brand like KFC to bash a homegrown favourite (well, sort of) like Chicken Licken?

This leads to my sneaky sneaky title. More and more, I’m noticing advertisers putting in more and more thinly veiled references to their competitors. Take these few examples:

1. Nedbank in a new TV ad

Taking advantage of the fact that they have far fewer customers and thus shorter queues at their ATMs, they take a stab at their main rivals – ABSA – the red queue, and Standard Bank – the blue queue; with both of these having much longer queues than the green ATM alongside.

Also the ‘Tired of seeing Red – see Green’ ad is similar.
2. MediCover in a radio ad on 702

Something about transparency and seeing through complex policies – they use the line – ‘…no unexpected discoveries ‘. The language and copy is really bad and seems out of place. This is focused squarely at Discovery Health and their Vitality program. Cheesy or clever? Dunno yet.

Is it worth the targets in these ads responding? I think not – just validates their competitor. That leads me back to blatant comparative advertising. It has the potential to create petty squabbles, and possible more damaging/scary, the potential for fans of the targeted brand to rise in union against the attacker.

With the power of the blogosphere, social media and citizen opinion, this is line that you may not want to cross. A blogger scorned is a dangerous beast. Think not of the power of one, think of the power of many to the power of many. This would look like this (you get the point):

One~many

Many~many

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