Like most patriotic Americans, I enjoyed #Election2012. The first Twitter election captivated us all for months and continued hours after President re-elect Barack Obama touted “Four more years,” the most popular tweet of all time.

At the same time, however, we can now finally exhale. Although political pundits will continue to analyze election results and the direction of America, the gross amount of political mudslinging has run its course. Negative campaign ads reached a fever pitch this fall, but now we’ll have another four years to wait before we’re inundated with this back-and-forth political banter again.

Comic written by Larry Lambert, illustrated by Jerry KingCourtesy of Mashable

In the meantime, some brands do some mudslinging of their own, boasting their creative mettle in an attempt to position themselves ahead of their top competitors. Pepsi and Coca-Cola have conducted mutually competitive TV ads since the 1980s, which have produced a handful of memorable gems.

Today, brands like Samsung and DirecTV are among those out to craft an ingenious campaign. Here is a look at four “brand attacks” that get the job done without crossing the line.

Samsung Galaxy— “The Next Big Thing is Already Here”

The highly anticipated launch of Apple’s iPhone 5 did not disappoint. In some instances, hundreds of Apple’s most devoted fans crowded sidewalks for hours, waiting in line to get first dibs on the next big thing in mobile technology. A brighter and larger screen, built-in wireless LTW technology, new ear buds, Passbook; Apple surely outdid itself with this one.

Samsung’s response: Not so fast, my friend.

Samsung’s Galaxy S3 “The Next Big Thing is Already Here” campaign quickly garnered steam following the iPhone’s launch. The 90-second TV commercial currently boasts more than 16.7 million views on YouTube.

The commercial pokes fun at the not-so-awesome “new” features of the iPhone 5, from the ear buds to the 4G network. Without a single mention of Apple, the ad highlights the differences between the two phones in a playful and subtle yet effective manner. Many of the iPhone 5’s new features, like the larger screens and LTE, are old news to Galaxy S3 users.

The coup de grace comes toward the end of the commercial when an S3 user is shown saving a spot for his parents (Old people love iPhones).

Forbes contributor John Ellett analyzed the ad and lauded Samsung for the following reasons:

  • Highlights the differences people care about (i.e. screen size)
  • Uses humor to take the edge off a competitive attack
  • Doesn’t mention Apple

“For brands considering the tactic of explicit comparative advertising,” he wrote, “I believe emulating the three reasons above will make their campaigns much more effective.”

Arby’s: The truth about Subway

Eat Fresh: The slogan the American sandwich franchise Subway has hammered down on consumers since 2002. If you’ve ever been to Subway, you’ve likely noticed the ovens and a display of a variety luncheon meats, fresh toppings and dressings behind the counter. When you eat at Subway, you can count on a fresh, succulent, healthy alternative to the other fast food chains, right?

Well, Arby’s hired former NYPD detective and current private investigator Bo Dietl to “slice up the truth about freshness” in this recent targeted ad campaign:

As silly as the near 5-minute spot seems—particularly because it begins with a super serious tone—it points out the fact that certain brands, like Subway, adopt slogans that are meaningless. But do people actually think that the meat is sliced (even cooked) inside Subway restaurants? Like Gabriel Beltrone of AdWeek puts it: “Overall, the video doesn’t reveal much about the evils of Subway’s long-distance meat craft, other than it is long distance.”

Arby’s, however, has been slicing meat “fresh every single day in every single restaurant—by real human beings.” After all, Arby’s slogan is Slicing Up Freshness — fairly similar to Subway’s.

Dietl should know. He has been a fan since 1969, back when he first dined at an Arby’s in California.

Domino’s “dirty little secret about the pizza business”

In an attempt to derail its top rival, Domino’s new pan pizza ad takes a shot Pizza Hut’s alleged quick, easier and cost-effective way of doing things. Unlike the Arby’s commercial, Domino’s does not go out and hire a retired NYPD detective, nor does it drop any names or point any elbows. Instead, CEO Patrick Doyle simply states that many pan pizzas start out as frozen dough.

“It’s easier to do things faster and cheaper,” Doyle jabs. “We aren’t interested in that.”

According to USA Today, Domino’s will sell pan pizzas at nearly 5,000 stores nationwide. One of five pizzas sold nationally is a pan pizza, and seeing that pan pizza is a big product for Pizza Hut, Domino’s needed to make a statement. Remember when Domino’s targeted Subway, too?

If you’re going to take a shot at your biggest competitor, you might as well take a stab at one-upping them at what they do best.

DirecTV: “Don’t wake up in a roadside ditch”

If you have cable, you’ve likely been there before: you’ve used up all of the space on your DVR, or you have spent 30 minutes or more waiting to speak to a customer service rep just to correct a minor issue of some sort.

DirectTV’s latest marketing ploy details the depression and hopelessness that can oftentimes occur as a direct result of these problems.

The above-mentioned spot is one of a half dozen dramatic scenarios, hilariously narrated and played out to perfection. Although it is clear which brand (or brands) DirectTV is targeting, the ads each single out a nagging concern and parlay that into a multiple extremes—like getting mugged and waking up in a roadside ditch.

Charlie Sheen even played a role in one of the spots.

Check mate

According to Fast Company’s Tom Cotton, competitive ads do differ from negative ads, coming off as “less vicious, less personal” and more fact-based. Cotton explains that these types of ad campaigns can certainly work for brands as long as they are carefully planned and inventive.

This, however, is a little extreme, but awesome nonetheless.

Courtesy of Forbes

(View the original post on Mainstreethost’s Search Marketing Blog)