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Why Bashing Your Competitor Is Not A Good Idea

It seems to me that companies like to throw mud at their competitors. An action that is truly understandable. It is easy, enterprises don’t need to pay communication agency’s to think about a strategy and journalists adore juicy stories to publish, so free publicity guaranteed (especially if the opponent strikes back). But is it really a smart thing to do and what are the consequences?

A few years ago Blackberry decided to produce a commercial that took a shot at Apple. An indirect offense by shooting an apple with a blackberry. Only fools wouldn’t notice the offense.

Of course it didn’t take long for Apple to respond. Their commercial had exactly the same setting but this time the blackberry didn’t survive the apple. Simple. Efficient. Effective. Even customers started to make parodies on the Blackberry commercial. Did Blackberry came out of the battle as a winner? I don’t think so! Why? Because it is easy to offend your opponent. Especially if he doesn’t strike back. But how big are the chances that he doesn’t? Small. Because offended companies are put in a victim role and consumers adore underdog brands. In my humble opinion, being offended can be a real gift from heaven. You have the opporunity to put criticism into positive vibes. And you can start from the leading position in the race since the other put you in an underdog position. And which customer doesn’t like a true heroic story in which the under dog brand strikes back, survives and even beat the opponent? It could be a script for a classical heroic movie, if you ask me.

So bashing your competitor is not a good idea because it puts you in a weak position. Unless your product or service is so fantastic that nobody can criticize it. But let us be honest, what are the chances? Even more than 2000 years ago, the most brilliant marketing guy told us ‘those who are innocent, can throw the first rock’. Indeed, nobody did.

Another remarque. So you’re still believing that naming your opponent in a negative way is the ultimate communication strategy? Fine. But think about this one: do you really want to namedrop them? If clients of yours don’t know them, chances are rather big that they will google your opponent. And what if they like their services more than yours?…

A last important question to ask yourself is: will I gain sympathy of the customers and will it help my brand image if I talk negative about another brand? Or am I going to be perceived as the little child screaming for attention; ‘look at me! look at me! I’m better than the other kids!’. I don’t know about you, but I mostly ignore those.

So in my humble opinion, throwing mud at your opponent(s) is not the best strategy. I have more respect for companies that chose to battle fairly (like GDFSuez does by stating in their rules of conduct not to offend their opponents) and with real, objective and own characteristics instead of finger pointing others.


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