How To Use Comparative Ads To Promote Your Brand

Who doesn’t like it when the big brands feud for their attention and launch large campaigns against each other? It’s good entertainment, and pretty much a common phenomenon in the last couple of decades.

But, what if we told you that these are not isolated incidents but part of a planned marketing and advertising strategy? You might think it’s not possible, but it is.

Just putting down competitors cannot be a marketing strategy. But using comparative ads is.

Big brands do it all the time to polarise the audience and grab a few eyeballs. Remember the Mac vs. PC advertisements? Or even the hilarious Burger King vs. McDonald’s’ billboard fights? 

You can put your own twist on comparative advertising to promote your brand. But to really do it well, you’ve got to know the dos and the don’ts. So, let’s break down comparative advertisements. And how you can use this strategy too!

Comparative Ads 

Advertising while promoting the features of your product is one way to go, yes. But, if you want to take a bigger step and really grab the attention of the customers in your industry, comparative advertising can serve as a brilliant strategy.

Especially if you’re an upcoming brand in an industry where big brands with loyal customers already exist. This approach allows you to leverage your competitor’s brand awareness while speaking to why your brand does something better.

Source: Neil Patel

Comparative advertisement is a strategy of highlighting your product against a competitor in direct comparison. This is usually done side-to-side.

You can choose to be neutral, positive, or even negative in your media call-out provided you have the meat to back up your messaging. 

Now, to the question that’s been lurking in your mind – won’t I get sued for doing this?

Not if you do it right. The few examples we mentioned earlier show that you can absolutely go no-holds-barred. Comparative Advertising is still advertising, after all. And you are allowed to promote your product within limits.

Trade Corporations understand that comparative advertising is fair if done in good sport and without misleading claims. 

There are specific laws in the USA, Canada, and North America for comparative advertising. Toe the line creatively, and you will not have to worry too much.

Legal Fine Print of Comparative Advertising Worldwide 

Hell hath no fury as a competitor scorned. So it pays to know where to draw the line. You might irk your competitor, but you never want to go so far as to end up in a legal battle. 

The phrasing and the intent of comparative advertising laws may vary from country to country. But generally speaking there are some rules and best practices to be followed:

  1. Comparative Advertising is encouraged to ensure customers have all the facts about the products in the market to make a fair decision.
  2. No claims that are misleading, deceptive, and easy to misconstrue are allowed in comparative ads. 
  3. If there is an outrageous claim made, it must be proved in a court of law if called upon by the competitor.

Comparative vs Competitive Advertisements

When we talk of comparative advertisements, it is vital to know the distinction between them and competitive advertisements. The spirit of feuding and displaying superiority might be the same, but the core principles and methods are quite different for both.

Comparative Ads usually:

  1. Focus on a single product 
  2. Calls out the competitor by name explicitly 
  3. List the features of the products in a side-by-side comparison for better effect 

However, if it is a competitive advertisement:

  1. The focus is on establishing brand superiority
  2. Explicit call-out won’t be necessary in all cases
  3. The aim is to make customers change their minds about the brand that they’re loyal to. This means winning them over for your full suite of products or services.

Now that we have gotten the basics out of the way, let’s explore a very curious and interesting phenomenon in the advertising world – the power of comparative advertising.

Why are Comparative Ads so effective? 

Comparative Advertisements work. That is why all big brands engage in it. 

So, what’s the power? What is so unique about this form of advertising that it has kept everyone hooked for decades now? 

The secret seems to be that comparative ads cater to a habit that most shoppers have. That habit is comparison research. Most people have run a search for Brand X vs. Brand Y before making a decision.

Comparison shoppers usually fall in the category of hot leads as per the popular copywriter and author of the book “Breakthrough Advertising”. A comparison shopper is on the fourth and penultimate stage of customer awareness. Social proof and benefits well-marketed to them will seal the deal.

That’s precisely the role of a comparison advertisement. 

With comparative ads, you make their job easy for them. The shopper, browsing the internet for details on your and your competitor’s products, now has it all on a platter neatly packaged.

By presenting verifiable and feature-oriented comparative ads, you can turn that user looking up details about your competitor into your customer.

Businesses also use comparative advertisements to improve brand awareness while launching a new product, service, or market. It is an effective way to garner attention and start the process of gaining traction. This method can help with customers who have been loyal to competitors for many years now too. 

Creating comparison advertisements to promote your brand 

If you want to take on your competitor in a brand war, Kimp brings you the toolkit to create a comparison advertisement for your product. This step-by-step guide will make it easy for you to get started.

Step 1: Customer Research 

Always look inside, and break down a process, before looking ahead to implement it. Your goal is to attract new customers and create an advertisement that shows them the value of choosing you, yes. But before you can do this you need to research those who have done it already. 

Customer research will tell you what’s working and attracting customers, what’s broken, and how you can better serve your target audience. This is vital information for someone looking to take on a big brand in the market. 

Step 2: Market Research 

After the customer, it is time to understand the market sentiment. Market research will give you data on how your brand is perceived, what differentiates you from your competitor in the market, and the status of your competitor’s brand in the market. 

Step 3: Evaluate your brand positioning 

With the data from the customer and market research gathered, it is time for introspection. Aim to decipher the differentiating factor between your brand and your competitor. Zero in on the features that will create the maximum impact in the comparative ads. 

Step 4: Leverage brand value into USP

Formulating a USP (unique selling proposition) plays a significant role in making customers choose you over the other brands in the market. USPs speak to customers and tell them how much value they’ll get by opting for your product. 

Step 5: Base the comparative advertisements on the USP 

Always remember that the primary aim is to impress customers with your product’s features and not just make a comparison. So, base the advertisement on the USPs of your product for maximum reach and impact. 

Comparative Ads – Best Practices and Examples 

Apple and Microsoft have been launching comparative advertisements for decades now.
Source: All Things Gear 
Mac vs. PC

Apple is a visionary. Not just in product design but undoubtedly in marketing too. Comparative Advertisements are all the rage now, but the Mac vs. PC ads back in 2006 have a cult following to date.

The Ads begin by telling us how the PC is good for things like creating spreadsheets and calculations. It then shows that the Mac is the way to go for what they call “life-stuff” like music, movies, and pictures.

They went on to show how a Mac that runs on Windows 10 is protected from spyware while a PC runs around in a fake mustache trying to avoid the spyware. 

The ads cover multiple features like network connectivity, complete sync in all products, and even show the PC enjoying an iPod. Way to plug in another product, if you ask us. In the ad, not even a PC can resist a Mac. 

Through this series of ads, Apple identified its brand positioning and target audience. The company managed to appeal to PC users and entice them to make the shift to a cooler and easier user experience. 

Mercedes Benz vs. Jaguar 

The rivalry between automobile brands is no secret. It even spreads to automobile enthusiasts. So, when Mercedes Benz released an ad talking about the features that makes them the best in the market, Jaguar had to take the bait.

The Mercedes ad highlighted its features of body control and stability and used a chicken to get this message across.

So Jaguar launched an ad that showed a big cat killing a chicken, which was being marveled at for its stability. Jaguar wanted to project its cat-like reflexes and prowess over Mercedes’s claim to fame.

This advertisement has all the hallmarks of promoting a product over the other but stopped short of converting customers since Jaguar did not support its argument with any facts.

The key takeaway here is that pomp is good, but back it up with substances. Good design with clearly stated facts will win you points, even if the advertisement is simple. 

Samsung vs. Apple 

This Samsung vs. Apple comparative advertisement is a clear example that if you have to punch, punch up.

As we all know, people who love Apple products are loyalists, and it takes a lot for someone to switch brands once they have been using iPhones or any other Apple product. 

This ad follows an Apple customer from 2007 to 2017, while his friends and family members use Samsung Galaxy. Subtly plugging features like unlimited storage, easy access, stylus usage, water resistance, and wireless charging, the message is clear: 

It is time to upgrade to Galaxy.

Subtle, informative, and poignant advertising from Samsung on this one. 

Freshbooks vs. Quickbooks 

Comparative ads don’t always have to be flashy and are not for big brands alone. Small and upcoming brands with a direct competitor taking up a market share can also put out information to their advantage.

A Google search of Freshbooks vs. Quickbooks gives us a webpage with this infographic below. Simple, concise, and benefit-oriented, this page will convert any user who is looking for a better product than Quickbooks.

This chart is not flashy but is appealing to a data-oriented demographic that will appreciate the subtle design. And you can draw potential customers to this type of page through a simple banner or carousel ad, or with a Google Ads campaign.

Kimp Tip: Keep the demographic you are catering to in mind when you design your comparative advertisement. Always design for your customers and your competitors’ customers’ sensibility for maximum impact. 

Freshbooks vs. Quickbooks Comparative Ad 
Source: Freshbooks
Marketo vs. Katra 

Honesty is the best approach in comparative advertisements. Kartra, a business-marketing platform, has a dedicated page to tell its visitors why they must choose Kartra over a direct competitor – Marketo.

The page they’ve set up for comparative advertising begins listing things Marketo does not provide and shows why Kartra proves to be worth a switch.

However, the stand-out feature on this page is that Kartra makes an open comparison and does not limit itself to highlighting the alternative to Marketo’s missing features alone. They also acknowledge the benefits which Marketo offers.

A thorough comparison is always a value-add for customers. And it also helps build trust as you position yourself as an honest brand that wants to help customers make an informed choice. This is an additional point in your favor. 

When you run your ad directing customers to this type of page, be sure to focus on the USP or feature that’s most likely to make them curious. Of course, you can always A/B test to see which approach will get you the best ROI.

Karta vs. Marketo Comparative Ad 
Source: Kartra

Comparative Advertisement Design – Best Practices 

As in all advertisements, design can make or break the success of your comparative advertisement. So, it is only prudent that design is awarded the same time and consideration as market research and copy development. 

As a premium graphic designer working with brands worldwide, Kimp follows these design practices for maximum impact for your ads.

  1. Keep the branding language intact. One of the pitfalls of comparative advertisement is that it can create a case of mistaken identity for your business. So, all the branding elements of your business such as logo, name, imagery, and other visual elements must stand out clearly. When your audience sees the ad they should have no doubt that it’s from your brand.
  1. Let the copy shine, especially in print and static designs.  Your copy will be describing how your brand and/or product is superior to another’s. So you need to make sure that it’s minimal, to the point and presented in a way that’s easy to read. Be sure to let your designer know which points are most important to emphasize. Good comparative design brings together design elements, images and copy in a cohesive way that clearly places your brand as the better choice.
  2. Highlight your brand prominently in video advertisements. The advertisement is for your brand, so the customer must go away with your logo and name in mind, and not your competitor’s. 

Design Comparative Ads to Promote Your Brand 

Leave a lasting impact on your customers and show them who’s the boss with a stunning comparative advertisement. Be sure to share your USPs and high quality images of the product or feature you want to emphasize with your designers. The more clearly you articulate the benefits of your brand in your brief, the better your design will come out.  

Ready to get started with comparative advertising? Get a dedicated design team from Kimp to help you create as many ads as you need. 

Book a call today to speak to a Kimp team member, and find out more about how flat rate design can help you build bigger, better campaigns.