Comparative v. Collaborative Advertising: Which Comes Out On Top?

With the overwhelming number of products on the market today, consumers have choices and every brand has competition. Many brands have included competitors in marketing materials in what is known as comparative advertising. It’s pretty self-explanatory; one brand compares its product to another’s, usually placing itself as the superior option. However, recently we’ve seen a couple of brand collaborations that paint both companies in a positive light.

Major brands have a history of comparative advertising—take the legendary war between Coca-Cola and Pepsi, for example. The most historic battle of the brands, this rivalry has existed for more than a century. Both companies have released comparative advertising spots in an effort to gain market share and fan bases.

Though Coca-Cola and Pepsi may not focus so heavily on comparative advertising anymore, there are several brands that have followed in their footsteps. Verizon, Samsung and Microsoft are three notable examples that gravitate toward comparative advertising. Consumers now have so many choices when it comes to technology, that these companies felt the need to point out competitor flaws in order to stand out.

These commercials may have been enough to persuade consumers to try out the brands’ products and/or services, but their competitors ended up blanketed in negativity. Geico has taken a different approach, featuring other brands’ mascots in a few of its ads.

A 2002 Geico commercial titled “The Audition,” had the company’s infamous Gecko run into Taco Bell’s Chihuahua.

Last year, as part of its “Happier Than,” campaign, Geico used the Pillsbury Dough Boy to demonstrate just how fun a TSA pat down can be.

Now, the Gecko has teamed up with M&M’s’ Ms. Brown to highlight how deliciously chocolate M&M’s are and how 15 minutes can save “humans” hundreds of dollars on car insurance.

Geico partnered with candy maker Mars to create this TV spot that was meant to benefit both brands. How revolutionary—a commercial that actually benefits both brands. With Geico and M&M’s piggybacking on the other’s audience, this collaboration is an excellent way for them to increase exposure. It’s also a way to foster positive sentiment amongst consumers. With comparative advertising, someone is always on the receiving end of the negativity, the butt of the joke. It can put consumers on the defensive and potentially turn them off a brand for good.

Though only a few brands have engaged in collaborative advertising, consumers will no doubt respond well to the positivity behind the cooperative effort.

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