Why would you take a swing at your competition?

Picture_8_235829 Over at the Daily Fix, Spike Jones (a great baseball name if I ever heard one) raises the question "why would you ever call out your competitors in your ads?"

He goes on to make some valid points.


All of Spike’s arguments are based on the assumption that the only audience for advertising and marketing tactics are prospects.  They’re not.

Who’s the most important customer?  Right, the one you already have.  They can either be out there, spreading your brand’s good word or they can not care enough to choose you again if the other guy is cheaper.

But when it comes to building brand loyalty and love, sometimes a little bashing goes a long way.  Comparison ads do just that. They hold up two choices and they make a clear distinction between the two.  And in doing that, sometimes they create or reinforce the building of ownership and pride in a brand.

Case in point — the Mac versus PC ads.  Do I think that those ads sway some PC owners to come over to the other side?  Sure.  But what I think they really do is get us Mac people to thrust our fist in the air and shout a little.   They reinforce our buying decision. They give us talking points so we can  go out and  spread the brand’s good word.  They make us feel smart and special.

Which means that when its time to buy another….


And now, for your viewing pleasure.  Imagine me giving a little cheer.

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13 comments on “Why would you take a swing at your competition?

  1. Connie Reece says:

    “us Mac people” – cheering right along with you, Drew. 🙂

  2. While that may be a marginal benefit I’m not sure that Apple believes they need to advertise to their existing customer base. I mean, doesn’t the product itself build the loyalty in this case?

    The real genius behind these ads is that they clearly point out the differences between the products. Taken as a campaign they work to weave a story about PC and Mac. They differentiate Mac.

    I am not a Mac user but these ads have me seriously considering one with my next purchase.

  3. Chris Punke says:

    These ads are very amusing, and I think you make a great point about making us devoted users feel good about our purchases. I really enjoy playing these videos to dedicated windows users, who interestingly find a lot of truth to the humorous points these ads make. The only jabs I get back are regarding the “inflated prices” of Mac hardware, but I’m always willing to pay a little extra for something that “just works.”

  4. Spike says:

    Good take on it, Drew. Like I said over at MarketingProfs, the Apple ads are the exception to my thoughts. But they are ALWAYS the exception to just about any rule.

  5. Not to go against the point of your post and I hate to be the resident Microsoftie but almost all these commercials from Apple are false.

    In the case of this one Microsoft’s operating system does not come loaded with all bloat. Manufacturers like Dell make deals with companies like Roxio and Creative to bundle their crappy trial software.

    Actually if you were to go install Vista it would come with everything you need… Media Player, Photos, etc (all the things iLife comes with).

    But wait – isn’t this why Microsoft was declared a monopoly a few years ago?

    This is why whenever I buy a new PC the first thing I do is put a fresh wonderful copy of Windows on it.

  6. Connie,

    Did you pump your fist in the air as you typed that or is that just a guy thing?


  7. Cam,

    Great question. Do you mind if I create a blog post about it rather than answer it here? I promise…comparision ads — the good, bad and the ugly.

    One post coming up! And I agree with your comments to Andy. He’s sort of a super user. I don’t think the ads are aimed at those folks. Because odds are, they will never switch — no matter which side of the fence they are currently on.

    But…I am sure Apple enjoys tweaking them a little!


  8. Sean,

    I think Apple has survived on the back of their loyal users. Until the iPod — they needed each and every one of those MacHeads. So yes, I do think they understand and value the fact that the ads do as much to guarantee the 2nd or 5th or 10th Apple purchase as they do a 1st.

    And of course, I cannot resist. You need to switch. You’ll love everything about the Mac. It is both form and function.


  9. Chris,

    One of the things I admire about Apple is that even though they were a small fish in the personal computer world, they never did the obvious thing — lower their prices. They never made it about the money. In fact, if anything, to your point, they priced themselves as the leader might. A premium price.

    A gutsy call that pays off every time one of us chooses to spend more to get more.


  10. Hey Spike,

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m curious. To what do you attribute Apple’s ability to consistently differentiate themselves?

    Is it Jobs? Something else? Something in their culture?


  11. Andy,

    I’m guessing super users like you who know the score are not Apple’s target. They have probably written you off as a “no way, no how” kind of potential customer. You’re not going to buy a computer because it’s cool or has some funky feature.

    So they’ve written you off, I suspect. Now watch — you’ll get a 50% coupon in the mail and off you’ll go to by a Mac!


  12. John,

    I hear what you are saying and I agree that it starts with a quality offering. But let’s face it…an HP computer and a Mac are both quality machines. But they’re very different. How they are different starts at the brand level.

    That’s where comparison ads can make a difference — it gives the consumer something to begin to use in evaluating their own personal pros and cons.


  13. Nancy,

    If someone already uses and loves a brand — it is almost impossible to get them to switch. Which is why, of course, we should be marketing to those clients who have already demonstrated that level of commitment.

    Advertising is not only for the new sale. Much of it is about reinforcing a good buying decision.

    As the discussion as pointed out, these Mac ads are as much for the die-hard Mac lover as they are for the people who will convert because if it.


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