The Risk of Combative Ad Campaigns
Eschewing the prevailing theory in advertising that one should never mention your competitor's product, many companies are taking a page out of the political campaign season and going with attack ads or in the parlance of the industry, “comparative advertising” that do just that. The trend towards negative marketing is being attributed to the downturn in the economy, forcing businesses to compete for a smaller pool of consumer dollars.
Although a dangerous proposition with plenty of potential to backfire, agencies tasked with creating these campaigns have found injecting humor to be the best method of ensuring success. Additionally, the charges being leveled against the competition need to be well-researched and not simply anecdotal. Advertisers shouldn't underestimate the savvy of their customer base by pushing unsubstantiated claims, simply to move a few more units. The risk outweighs the reward in these instances, given the the web's potential to reach a wide audience if any fallacies are uncovered by the public, thus alienating the very people they were attempting to court. At the same time, a poorly conceived strategy opens the door for the competition, allowing them proper justification to employ undercutting tactics of their own. The real question seems to be how much tit for tat can we collectively stomach before everyone walks away a loser?