Roasting the competition in advertising

Written by Run2.
· 4 minute read

Competition is seen as being a positive aspect of the business. It pushes you to be the best. No company stands alone. Even the best companies have close competitors on their tail. Take Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi. They are probably the most heated rivals when it comes to advertising. These two enormous brands have been engaged in back and forth competitive ad shots since the Pepsi Challenge launched in 1975. This saw people taking part in taste tests and preferring Pepsi over Coke. Overall Pepsi has often marked itself as the more hip, trendy brand, while Coke has often played on customer nostalgia.

All industries have main competitors, not just the drink industry. There’s Xbox vs. PlayStation, Apple vs. Microsoft and Nike vs. Reebox.  Big brands that constantly compete to be the best. Therefore it’s the job of the marketers to make their product stand out above the rest, though some don’t always play nice (not that that’s a bad thing).

One way some companies try to take on their competitors is to mock their rivals through advertising mediums, including posters, emails and ads. Which is exactly what KFC did this week with their new, hard-hitting marketing campaign ‘Chicken town’. Rather than aiming it at their close competitors, like Burger King, they have opted to target the lesser-known names of the local takeaway. The campaign sees the man they have described as “the original chicken don,” sweeping the UK’s pavements assessing the minor-league competition from the names of AFC to ZFC.

The London advertising agency ‘Mother’ stated that “although they can try to match the name, and can draw heavy inspiration from the logo, the reality is that this legion of imitators will never be able to match the iconic taste of KFC.”

Along with the TV advert they released a printed ad alongside, starting from AFC to ZFC chicken takeaways – with the comment, “Guys, we’re flattered.”

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Carrying on the takeaway marketing advertising, Burger King have a tradition of mocking competitors. Last year they sent customers to their biggest rival, McDonald’s, to be able to claim a Whopper burger from Burger King for one cent. If customers are within 600ft of a McDonalds in the US, they can unlock the deal. The app then offers directions to a nearby Burger King to collect their free meal.  Clever idea you might say. However, some customers found the app didn’t work, the promotion backfired and they ended up eating at McDonalds as they were already there.

This year, not even coffee chain Starbucks is free from Burger King’s path. Their campaign to save money with their new affordable coffee subscription alternative. “Enjoy BK Café for a month for the price of a large cappuccino from Starbucks.”

Now, Burger King has taken the tradition to a whole new level. Their new campaign of ‘Burn that ad’ allows users of the Burger King app to scan flyers, billboards or digital content from any other major burger chain competitors with their smartphones. Then users watch as it digitally goes up in flames to reveal a coupon for a free Whopper burger.

The app is currently just live in Brazil, to see how it responds to customers. The brand says about 500,000 Whoppers are expected to be given away across Brazil. The digital-focused campaign was started to publicise how customers can use BK Express to pre-order their meals on their phones to beat the queues.











There have been many examples of how companies have taken on their competitors, from Mercedes Benz ads, with the message “What do chickens and Mercedes-Benz have in common? Stability at all times” to their competitor Jaguar, 3 months later using a very similar concept of a chicken but with a twist. “Magic Body Control? We prefer cat-like reflexes, don’t you?”.

Using humour and sarcasm is a great way to get your name out there but it’s not a strategy that works for everyone. Roasting your competitors is a dangerous game that can go one of two ways. Usually, it works to you benefit, but be aware that the companies will probably hit back so you need to be ready!

See how this could work for your business. Get in touch today!