Coke vs PepsiHefty vs. Wimpy. Google vs. Bing. FedEx vs. UPS. General Motors vs. Ford.

Brand rivalries are nothing new to the marketing world and have been known to get so fierce that company executives “hate” each other. While we don’t recommend making enemies out of your competitors anytime soon, these rivalries provide interesting marketing ideas and examples.

Why? Because in today’s world, it’s all about the shock factor and outdoing what’s already been done. This is why major artists like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, and Nicki Minaj are radically over-the-top in all their performances. Likewise, major brands are now trying to cash in on the action to grab consumer attention.

How? Brands are ramping up their marketing rivalry by:

1. Cutting to the chase

Bing isn’t beating around the bush with their latest campaign against Google and all its services. With a series of ads directly calling-out privacy concerns about Google, Bing asks the question, “Are you getting Scroogled?” What makes Bing’s campaign interesting is that they’re kowtowing to both average users as well as the SEM community. Each Bing ad has an indictment such as Google’s lack of advertiser choices, privacy issues, and paid search results transparency. While Bing’s challenger attacks aren’t welcomed in all circles, they’re definitely getting increased attention – which is the point of advertising after all, right?

2. Using friendly humor

In the United States, the competition between Gatorade and Powerade is as fierce as ever. Though Gatorade has the majority of the market share with nearly 75 percent, Powerade is catching up thanks largely in part to their willingness to call out the competition. Check out this commercial in which Powerade tastefully pokes fun at Gatorade.

The brilliance of the campaign is the fact that Powerade is specifically targeting Gatorade’s lineup of Prime, Perform, Recover drinks. This series of drinks is to be taken before physical activity, during physical activity, and afterwards. The focus of Powerade’s campaign is that this is far too complicated for a sports drink. Instead of drinking 3 different drinks on game day, Powerade uses humor to make the point that simplicity is key – just drink one sports drink, bro! This content strategy works because it’s focused on specific products.

3. Declaring a Never-ending War

Since the 1980s, Coca Cola and PepsiCo have been at each other’s throats. Though Coca Cola was introduced to the marketplace approximately 12 years before Pepsi, the two are virtually equals in today’s world. In 1975, Pepsi began a campaign that called-out Coke by embarrassing them. You see, Pepsi ran a series of blind tests and asked participants which flavor they liked better – Coke lost.

Over three decades later, the rivalry between these soft drink titans still continues. Lately, they’ve been playing the “Anything You Can Do We Can Do Better” game. For instance, when PepsiCo revealed Pepsi Stuff as a rewards program for loyal drinkers, Coke quickly followed suit with MyCokeRewards. As the Cola Wars continue, both brands are competing to see who can achieve more celebrity endorsements than the other.

4. Touting your record


Despite recent struggles in the ratings, Idol’s history as the most successful television show in American history has become a tool for competitive advertising. With new competitive shows such as The Voice and the X-Factor, Idol is directly bashing the competition by pointing out that they’re the only show to legitimately produce superstars.

Judge Randy Jackson as well as the show’s producers have directly stated that Idol is the gold standard in reality television. Even if the show doesn’t live up to its glory days, it was the pioneer and continues to be a television powerhouse, Fox executives insist. The lesson here is that established brands can use their experience, reputation, and public goodwill to position themselves above any new competition in the industry.

5. Understanding how offensive marketing works

To successfully carry call out competitors, brands must understand how offensive marketing works, especially since it’s much easier to challenge than to defend. In marketing warfare, the four strategies of marketing include Defensive, Offensive, Flanking, and Guerrilla Marketing. By studying these techniques, brands can position themselves for fierce competition.

Have you ever called out your competitors through advertising? Or have your competitors taken a few shots at you? We’d love to hear about it in the comments section below.