I’m wondering whether to take on a direct rival and compare ourselves to them. What do you think?

Is it ever worthwhile to mention a rival in your marketing? I’m wondering whether to take on a direct rival and compare ourselves to them.


We live in a time where you only have to turn on the television after work to see a big brand attacking the competition.


It’s almost second nature for big business now, but does it work and what are the risks?


Leaving customers to guess who you are talking about in your communication can be effective in challenging the status quo and forcing customers to rethink their brand perceptions.


Waging war on the competition carries some serious risk. You have very little room for error and must tread a fine line between appearing confident or arrogant.


The number one mistake that businesses make when taking on the competition is retreating upon the first sign of a fight from the market.


You have to be prepared to be strong and stick to your guns or risk the political effect of standing for one thing one day and another the next.


Directly taking on rivals can backfire in a number of ways:

  • You can appear arrogant.
  • You have to be able to back up your claims or else you run the risk of destroying trust with your market.
  • You run the risk of legal action if your claims become misleading or unfairly damaging to the competition.
  • Competitors can fire back and take the higher ground as BMW did in their battle for the luxury car market with Audi.

If you can accept the risk, taking on rivals can instantly put your competition on the back foot and reposition the market in your favour.

The keys to successfully waging war on the market are:

  • Don’t start something you can’t finish.
  • Build the edgy, underdog striving for the top personality into your brand. One-off campaigns don’t work if you tuck back into your shell afterwards.
  • Be confident. Consumers can smell a phony.
  • Be timely. Your campaign is more likely to be picked up by media if it’s particularly relevant to issues that the market is facing at the time.

Taking on your market and comparing your strengths is a gutsy move but if you’re prepared to go the whole nine yards, it can put your start-up on the map. Good luck!


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