Favourite vs. Favourite: Clashes Arranged by Brands

Comparison stands behind any considered choice, and any confident global brand tends to provide its consumers with an opportunity to examine both the positive and negative sides of their products—and sometimes weigh its offerings against goods by other manufacturer. Sometimes, companies also step outside the product world and help compare lots of other things—sexes, automobiles, brothers, tastes, political parties, athletes and more—to help determine which of the two is better, stronger, messier, tastier, faster, more attractive, reliable, sportive, etc.  In this overview, we won’t focus on serious ratings revealing carbon footprint or social impact, like Nike’s Environmental Apparel Design Tool, Timberland’s Eco Index or GoodWill’s rating—instead, as tribute to April Fool’s Day, which was celebrated last Friday, we will focus on humorous and tongue-in-cheek projects.

Do you prefer tea or coffee, rainy or sunny days, red or blue, towns or metropolis areas, left or right, this or that? We’re constantly making choices, support specific points of view and, by doing this, in a certain way we vote for things we love most. As part of its After-Hours Athlete activity, PUMA invites its fans to score literally everything they want—“if people, places, or things can compete, they can have a Life Scoreboard,” states the brand.

Probably, the oldest confrontation is the one sparked off between male and female, and brands often employ this theme in their promotions to touch a tender nerve in everybody. The latest one is ‘Love, Peace and Storage’ launched last week by IKEA—in a video released by the brand four stand-up comedians (two men and two women) are debating about which sex is messier. Users can contribute by casting a vote for (or, more preciously, against) one of the camps.

The other brand which built its promotion on this eternal confrontation of sexes is Seat, which last spring launched a project to determine who are better drivers, men or women, and invited drivers of both sexes to participate in the activity in order to prove that their sex really deserves to be behind the wheel.

Gillette and Stella Artois kindled war between family members in their promotions—the male grooming brand started a campaign on Twitter featuring two identical brothers, twins George and Dean Georgiades—one with beard and another clean-shaven—to figure it out if guys look more attractive with facial hair. The brothers were undertaking a range of challenges including pasta-eating competition and discovering which of them would be better served by shop assistants to generate buzz around the project and attract more fans. The winner was determined after a certain period of time based on the number of followers his account got in the end of the race.

Stella Artois’s contribution to a range of ‘cold war’ advertising was a commercial featuring siblings, Claude and Pierre, who are competing in cooking, jumping a rope, building card houses and pouring beer into a glass.

Red Bull and Nike also like to strike celebrities together, aiming to determine which of them is a real public’s favourite. Recently, the energy drink brand arranged a series of music battles entitled Red Bull Soundclash (match ups were arranged between Cee Lo Green—the Ting Tings, and Snoop Dogg—Ghostland Observatory), and the sportswear brand is encouraging Facebook fans to decide who is a real Superfly, i.e. the fastest and boldest player on the pitch, letting them choose from 16 top footballers.

Some brands take a step further and compare their products to humans (maybe, because of getting too inspired by this computer vs. man theme?). In its latest humorous promotion, Nissan put a model (an auto) against a stunning blond lady in a swimsuit to see which of them will ‘beat’ the competitor in acceleration, agility, aerodynamics and curb appeal. From a technical point of view, the girl looses every challenge, but who cares since she has a perfect body?

In another promotion, launched by MINI Cooper S, the rivals are only cars: one of the tiniest autos challenged its ‘bigger brother’ Porsche 911 Carrera S with “the most racing victories of any manufacturer out there,” to come out and participate in ‘a race of ages.’ Of course, the invitation stirred a lot of hype, and though Porsche didn’t send its representative to the competition, the race was arranged and, of course, MINI lost it—but the brand still managed to turn the fail into a new round of stunning promotion.

When it comes to comparing itself to rivals, brands are extremely creative and ironic. Being long-standing competitors, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are too obsessed with dominance (at least, consumers are convinced they are) and use every opportunity to tweak each other. These brands are considered to be the biggest frenemies in the consumer goods sectors, have been engaged in this ding-dong battle for decades and launch different promotions to take pokes at each other, directly or in an underhand way. Last year, the ‘red, white and blue’ brand released a remake of the old commercial, in which Coca-Cola Zero delivery driver drinks Pepsi Max offered to him by the truck driver of the ‘rival brand.’

Unlike Pepsi and Coca-Cola, Starbucks never starts a fight and is sitting quietly watching how other coffee companies are looking daggers at it. In late 2009, shortly after Starbucks launched its instant coffee VIA, Nescafé launched quite an offensive campaign taglined ‘A lot of Hype or A lot of Flavor? Taste for yourself’ (the first part of the question referred to Starbucks, still there were no logos or names indicated) and offered its consumers to order free samples to make sure that N’s coffee is better than S’s one.

Costa Coffee has also set itself up against Starbucks, but it doesn’t even try to be polite and hide the name of its opponent—in its advertising campaign, the British coffee brand stated that “in head-to-head taste tests, 7 out of 10 coffee lovers preferred Costa Cappucino to Starbucks.” Despite Starbucks indignation, ASA decided that the advertising didn’t contain any misleading statements.

Smirnoff was more PC in its ‘The People’s Challenge’ campaign created to prove that the brand’s vodka is better than premium and ultra-premium vodkas produced by other brands in a series of blind tests across the USA.

Still, some brands are not afraid of showing their ‘meaner’ side. Škoda kicked off a campaign revealing its ‘worse’ traits in contrast to its ‘sweet’ onesKraft Foods also launched a candid promotion for its Miracle Whip spread and salad dressing brand: it encouraged its consumers to divide into two groups—of those who love and those who hate the product. The consumers were invited to try the sprea and then post a feedback, positive or negative, on the brand’s YouTube page. So far, over 40 K people adore the product and just about 3K dislike it.

The approach based on tearing the country apart seems to be quite popular among brands. Another spread brand Marmite launched its ‘adore/abhor’ campaign in a very serious tone: it formed two ‘political’ parties, Love and Hate, with well-grounded programs—one about spreading the love of Marmite and another about stopping the spread of Marmite.

The Hendrick’s gin also used a ‘political’ theme in its humorous promotion—it was determining which of the modern political parties is better by reading their manifestos to cucumbers each day during the election campaign is and watching them grow to these sounds. The Gineral Election project was dedicated to the last year’s National Elections Day, May 6—the biggest cucumbers were then used to produce the gin (maybe, to toast the party, which was the most beneficial for the plants).

Ahead of the Olympic Games 2012, Cadbury is also dividing the nation into two by activating its large-scale Spots v Stripes campaign, in which Brits are encouraged to join one of the teams and participate in a plethora of sport related light-hearted activities, both in the digital space and offline.

In its campaign for its duo chocolate bar, Cadbury’s Wispa suggested a gorgeous solution to this ‘choose with whom you are’ conflict.  The brand asked consumers, which bar they preferred—left or right—and then suggested to turn the pack and see how the left one ‘becomes’ the right one and vice versa. The philosophical point here is that each of the variants is totally OK—just change your attitude, and any of the two (three, ten, one hundred) products you are from will be just fine. As simple as that.