Attempting to dirty a competitor's reputation risks backfiring

Attempting to dirty a competitor's reputation risks backfiring

WaveMetrix analysis suggests that attempting to emphasise a competitor's weakness may have the opposite effect. Instead of agreeing, consumers tend to voice issues with the original brand and flock to the support of its rival.

Many brands no longer just emphasise why they are the best, but also why their competitors are the worst. In the following examples, Pepsi, Microsoft and T-Mobile attempted to dirty the reputation of their competitors, namely Coke, Google and Verizon. While Pepsi and T-Mobile indulged in a specific campaign, Microsoft leaked an internal advert which besmirched the Gmail service. With creatives and material broadcast via social media, consumer reaction now comes quicker and more ferociously than ever before.

Indeed, WaveMetrix social media monitoring demonstrates that encouraging direct comparisons on social sites can risk significant negativity. Firstly, it acts as a location for disgruntled current customers to vent their frustration and disagreement about the brand. Secondly, it is likely to attract loyal fans of the competitor, who vehemently defend its reputation. Both factors can result in serious negativity and a strengthening, rather than a weakening, of competitor reputation.
Attempting to position a brand as “better” risks driving consumers to actively disagree:
Attempting to dirty a competitor's reputation risks doing exactly the opposite
  • Directly comparing brands risks forming a hotbed for disgruntled customers: All three brands received significant amounts of negativity following the direct comparison against a competitor. While Pepsi fared slightly better, brands with more potential for unhappy customers received very high levels of negativity
Fans of the rival brand can often flock to its defence:
Attempting to dirty a competitor's reputation risks doing exactly the opposite
  •  Far from driving further negativity around a competitor, making active comparisons can stimulate competitor fans to vehemently defend the rival brand: Consequently, instead of dirtying a rival’s reputation, such direct comparisons can often have the opposite effect and leave the competitor in a stronger position



Anonymous 31st October 2011

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