In Part 2, you were shown just some of the most creative ways marketers had directly engaged their target audience. Meanwhile Part 1 presented a few ways to be indirect but at the same time have that strong impact.

Now you’re going to see something that almost literally drops the bomb on everybody, from competitors to the general public.

A Declaration of War

It’s not just about one-sided comparisons or openly dissing a rival brand. It’s using both to directly challenge them in front of the whole world. Yet still, like in the previous parts, methods can vary. You crash a rival’s public event, resort to paparazzi, or even just start an internet flame war. It only gets bigger now that internet and social media make it even easier to spread the word.

It’s no surprise that many a marketer hesitate to use this confrontational style. And yes, there are times when it can get a little underhanded but that still doesn’t take away its capacity to really draw attention (and potentially boost sales).

Now, exactly what have been the ways that brands accomplished this? You’ll see in the following examples (with some of them even unintended).

Using Irony

It starts normally enough. A business talks about their superiority by pointing out the inferiority of their competitors. Yet ironically, they’re guilty of the same crime but just don’t notice it!

For example, Patagonia’s don’t buy me ad caused some confusion during Black Friday last year, whether they were trying to say they should be bought or not. The truth though was the company was playing upon an irony. Black Friday’s the biggest shopping event of the year but the company itself preaches the message of reusability and eliminating the need for buying new stuff at all.

Other ironies get more blatant such as McDonald’s and Coca Cola’s sponsorship of the Olympic games despite their ties to obesity problems. You can even argue that their ploy had more to do with bribery than actual marketing but that wouldn’t be enough to eliminate the history both brands have had on the sporting event.

Send in the Trolls!

All trolls are attention seekers. Their main existence (both on the internet and outside it) is to cause on certain topics of interest. Many go as far as to make unreliable claims and exaggerate when they go on the defensive.

It sounds a little pathetic but a grand PR display of playing “the victim” can occasionally win people’s sympathies. For an example, look to the CEO of Papa John’s Pizza who complained about the Affordable Care Act just a day after President Obama’s re-election. And in the spirit of irony, John Schnatter’s cutback comments make a stark contrast to the 2 million free pizzas his chain gives away during football season (not to mention the memes that have sprouted in response to him). Still, he wasn’t alone both in terms of support as well as other chains who anticipated a sting from Obamacare but did not garner public attention.

Another known dramatizer is L’Oréal, known for supposedly pointing out how “fake” an ad was by long-time rival Dior and bringing down the wrath of advertising regulators. All of this in spite of its own reputation for employing similar techniques.

And of course, you also have the anonymous supporters who either attack or defend a company that just happen to post online comments out of nowhere in response to an advert. Other cases might not even involve those who take no sides at all, just someone who enjoys trash talking and getting attention. But hey! If your brand’s in that mix, they’re giving it a share too (whether they like it or not).

Party Crash Time

As the title suggests, this is a stunt that involves going in and out of your rival’s event in the obvious hopes of screwing them over. So far, such a method was more covert and not as likely to generate media attention.

Until now that is.

Among the many highlights of the latest CES, it was T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere who set a new bar by showing up at AT&T’s live concert event. And while you had learned about Legere’s aggressive tactics in the previous post, this is really the first time where he took matters in his own hands.

His actions indeed got the stir his company asked for and it only got better when AT&T’s reaction gave more publicity. This is in light of T-Mobile’s doubling stock prices that have come as a result of the CEO’s marketing offense. And to top it off, the whole thing was handled quite professionally without anybody really blowing off their heads about it.

Be it from you or from a rival company, getting caught in a big-time stunt can really shake up the competition. But of course, it carries the risk of turning the tide against you end up paying for it, hard.

So there you have it, the many creative, out-of-the-box stunts that brands have pulled just to get a little attention. You yourself shouldn’t hesitate to try. Whether you’re aiming the message at your prospects, your rivals, or your own team, as long as your brand is somewhere in there, you are a publicity bomb just waiting to blow. Don’t think too much about costs compared to what kind of reputation you’ll end up with. All these examples simply go to show that no investment is enough unless marketing gets your voice heard.