5 Epic Ad Campaign Wars Between Rival Brands

For as long as we can remember, rival brands have been challenging each other through a wide range of advertising mediums – from posters and billboard ads to videos and emails. But just when we think there won’t be anyone bringing anything new to the table, some brands decided to step up their game and use comparative advertising strategies to openly mock their rivals by creating parody ads.

Comparative advertising strategies are most probably driven by each brand’s desire to prove that their products are the best. In that vein, we have got for you here a compilation of 5 notable advertising war campaigns between rival brands that you should not miss.

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1. Mercedes-Benz vs. Jaguar

Mercedes-Benz started a viral ad campaign in September 2013 to showcase their Intelligent Drive Magic Body Control which ensures optimum driving comfort. The message they wanted to get across was "What do chickens and Mercedes-Benz have in common? Stability at all times."

3 months later, Jaguar decided to challenge Mercedes-Benz’s chicken ad with their "Jaguar vs. Chicken" ad. They used a similar concept of a chicken showing its stability throughout the video but with a twist at the end: "Magic Body Control? We prefer cat-like reflexes, don’t you?"

It did not take long for Mercedes-Benz to hit back. In fact, it took them only 3 days to come up with a simple yet effective poster.

mercedes benz response poster

The feud between Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar is certainly heating up – who knows what these two mega car brands will do next?

2. Microsoft vs. Google Chrome

Longtime rivals Microsoft and Google are constantly looking for ways to top one another. In March 2013, Google released an ad titled Chrome: Now Everywhere to promote their browser.

2 months later, Microsoft came up with an ad campaign titled Scroogled to warn Chrome users that Google is breaching their privacy. Microsoft parodied Google Chrome’s ad by releasing an ad titled Microsoft Internal Google Chrome Bouncing Ball Now Everywhere, claiming that Chrome tracks everything they do.

In mid-November, Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign even started selling merchandise with anti-Google messages.

microsoft mug attack on google

Image Source: The Verge

Google responded with a few witty remarks, saying "Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise; competition in the wearables space is really heating up." Google also suggested that while Microsoft was busy selling t-shirts, Google was working hard on Google Glass.

3. Samsung vs. Apple

Two other tech giants that use comparative advertising strategies are Samsung and Apple. In the last couple of years, we have seen these two rival brands competing for supremacy in the smartphone market.

It began with Samsung’s ad campaign in late 2011, The Next Big Thing to promote their then new smartphone, Galaxy S II. In the ad, Apple fans waiting in line for the next iPhone release were ironically checking out the Samsung Galaxy S II of passers-by.

The ad not only mocked iPhone users with lines like "Why don’t you guys just get 4G phones?" but also took the opportunity to feature their larger screens.

A month later, Samsung created a poster and featured it on their Facebook page. It displayed the Galaxy S II side-by-side with a group made up of an iPhone, obsolete cellphone, and a pair of empty tin cans.

samsung s2 poster

Image Source: 9to5

The latest episode in this rivalry is another dig at Apple; Samsung’s Grad Pool Party ad was released in May 2013 to promote their latest smartphone, Galaxy S4.

However, it doesn’t look like Apple will be so quick to respond with an ad campaign – probably because that would hint that Samsung’s tactics did get on their nerves.

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4. Xbox One Vs. PlayStation 4

To spice things up even further in this decade-old rivalry, the launch dates of Microsoft Xbox One and Sony PlayStation 4 were less than a week apart! Here’s an ad released by Sony in mid-October 2013 to promote their latest gaming console.

Not wanting to fall behind, Microsoft released their "Invitation" ad to promote the Xbox One. Even though Microsoft enlisted the help of football star Steven Gerrard, Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto, and other stars, Sony’s ad still generated twice the amount of hype on its release day.

However, that did not stop Microsoft from releasing a statement on Twitter a month later, claiming that "Xbox One has the best games."

x box one tweet

A week later, PS4 released an ad on the day of Xbox One’s launch titled "The Declaration of Play. This is #4ThePlayers". If you watch the ad carefully, you can see references made about the Xbox One like "refuse to be boxed in" and "jaw-dropping graphics" – taking an obvious jab at the Xbox One’s 720p issue.

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5. iPad vs. Its Rivals

iPad Air vs. Kindle Fire

In late November 2013, Amazon was the latest company to challenge Apple’s advertising style with their very own parody commercial. The commercial showed the iPad Air being compared side-by-side with the latest Kindle Fire HDX 8.9.

Comparisons were made about the number of pixels, weight, and cost – all of which the Kindle Fire came out on top. To add to the sarcasm, an American English voice-over was used to explain the Kindle Fire’s specs, whereas the iPad Air had a posh British English voice-over.

iPad vs. Microsoft

So far, Microsoft holds the record for having made the most Apple parodies. The tension between these two brands was arguably sparked by Apple’s I’m a Mac ad campaign a few years ago.

In late May 2013, Microsoft released an ad titled Windows 8: Less talking, more doing and used Apple’s very own Siri to badmouth its own product. The ad compared specs of Apple’s iPad and Microsoft’s Windows 8 tablet.

Microsoft continued their attack towards Apple with another ad released in mid-July, Windows 8: Surface RT vs. iPad. The ad started with Siri saying, "Oh no, here we go again" which is a continuation from the previous ad when Siri was used to make spec comparisons between the two tablets.

iPad vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

Back in mid-2011, Samsung Germany released an ad to promote their latest tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1. In the ad, a caption that said "See Flash run" was directed to the Galaxy Tab user and then the caption quickly changed to "Or not" while showing a lady using an Apple’s iPad.

The video ad then showed the lady going into a shop to purchase a Galaxy Tab.

A few months later, Apple striked back. Apple took Samsung to a German court because the Galaxy Tab violated Apple’s minimalist design patent. The German court agreed upon Apple’s request to ban the sales of Galaxy Tab 10.1 in Germany.

iPad vs. Nokia Lumia 2520

Towards the end of November 2013, Nokia released an ad to promote their new tablet, Lumia 2520, while at the same time poking fun at the iPad for its poor battery life and lack of a bundled keyboard. The ad ended with the iPad user saying, "Did I buy the wrong tablet?"

Bonus: Mac vs. PC

Okay, we know it may be a little old, but we just can’t possibly talk about advertising war campaigns without bringing up the classic battle between Mac and PC. It all started with the Get A Mac comparative advertising campaign back in 2006.

It depicted the two sides: Apple’s all-white background with a casually dressed actor, Justin Long, who presented himself as "Hello, I’m a Mac", and John Hodgman dressed in a suit and tie, presented himself as "And I’m a PC".

Below is an example of the first Mac ad, "Better" released in 2006.

The ads showcased short sketches to compare the capabilities of Mac and PC. PC was portrayed as polite and secure compared to Mac who was more confident, friendly, and stylish. In late 2008, Microsoft responded with their very own ad, "I’m a PC".

It featured celebrities, public figures, and ordinary citizens who all chant ‘I’m a PC’ in different environments.

Apple did not wait long to respond to Microsoft’s ad campaign, "I’m a PC". Below is Apple’s answer to the ad Microsoft released. It showed how the PC was going to spend all of its revenue on advertising rather than working on solutions to the problems inherent in Vista.