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Youtube

8 Ad Taglines that Sneakily Ding the Competition

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Youtube

Companies naturally want to convince people that their products are better than the competition, but when it comes to advertisements, making direct comparisons between competing products can be tricky. Ad campaigns must step lightly around potential issues with the verifiability of claims, liability, and trademark laws. For example, while it’s OK to say your product is the “best,” it’s not OK to say it’s “better” than a specific competitor unless you have clear evidence on exactly what makes it better. Attempts to play on trademarked phrases can also backfire. McDonald’s once sued Burger King over an ad for the Whopper that read “It’s not just Big, Mac” and won by showing that some people were confused by the ad into thinking that they could get a Big Mac at Burger King. To get in a good jab at the competition, you’ve got to be indirect, but not so indirect that your audience won’t pick up on it at all. Here are eight ad taglines that found a way to sneakily ding the competition

1. Sweet’N Low: "For millions of people, there’s just no equal"

When artificial sweetener rival Equal came along, Sweet’N Low started using this subtle dig in their commercials. When Splenda entered the market and started gunning for the number 1 spot, they dropped it in favor of a tagline from the pre-Equal days, “Wherever you go, Sweet’N Low.”

2. DHL: "Yellow. It’s the new brown."

Ashby Parsons

No need to mention UPS directly. DHL is merely talking about the benefits of its vibrant banana color scheme and how much better it is than that muddier, blander other one. Right?

3. Dunkin’ Donuts: "Delicious lattes from Dunkin' Donuts. You order them in English."

Why wouldn’t you order them in English? That would be crazy. But according to this commercial, there do exist some places that do make you order your coffee in a bizarre, made-up language. Wonder who they could be talking about? (Side note: I guess this commercial marks the moment when “latte” acquired full English-word status.)

4. Virgin Atlantic: "Keep Discovering – Until You Find the Best."

When Virgin Atlantic started service from London to Dubai they advertised it with the slogan “Keep Discovering – Until You Find the Best.” That’s not sneaky at all—until you realize that “Keep Discovering” is the slogan for Emirates Airlines.

5. Samsung: "It doesn’t take a genius."

CNET

Samsung chose the indirect way to claim the Galaxy phone was better than an iPhone by turning Apple’s Genius Bar concept around on them.

6. Verizon: "There’s a map for that."

Verizon also took a swing at Apple, who has a trademark on “there’s an app for that,” back in the days when you could only get iPhone service through AT&T. In this commercial they tout the superior broad coverage of their network with a twist on one of Apple’s taglines.

7. Audi vs. BMW: "Your move/Checkmate/Your pawn is no match for our king/Game over."

When you do decide to take on your competitors by name, you’d better be ready to keep upping your game. When Audi erected a billboard in L.A. with the cheeky tagline “Your move, BMW,” BMW responded with a confident “Checkmate” on its own billboard. Not ready to give up yet, Audi replied with “Your pawn is no match for our king” over a picture of their most exotic model. BMW’s response was to attach a zeppelin to the billboard on which was printed a photo of one of their Formula 1 racecars and the words “Game Over,” which pretty much put the matter to bed, without them ever deigning to print the word “Audi.”

8. Nintendo: "Why did the hedgehog cross the road? To get to Super Mario Land 2."

Twitter

In the '90s ad battle between game companies Sega and Nintendo, Sega used the more aggressive approach, calling out its competitor by name with the inelegant “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” Nintendo used the subtle approach here, not mentioning its competitor’s name or even the name of its game character (just a generic hedgehog…), but still getting the message across.

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How Frozen Peas Made Orson Welles Lose It
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)
Rebecca O'Connell (Getty Images) (iStock)

Orson Welles would have turned 103 years old today. While the talented actor/director/writer leaves behind a staggering body of work—including Citizen Kane, long regarded as the best film of all time—the YouTube generation may know him best for what happened when a couple of voiceover directors decided to challenge him while recording an ad for Findus frozen foods in 1970.

The tempestuous Welles is having none of it. You’d do yourself a favor to listen to the whole thing, but here are some choice excerpts.

After he was asked for one more take from the audio engineer:

"Look, I’m not used to having more than one person in there. One more word out of you and you go! Is that clear? I take directions from one person, under protest … Who the hell are you, anyway?"

After it was explained to him that the second take was requested because of a “slight gonk”:

"What is a 'gonk'? Do you mind telling me what that is?"

After the director asks him to emphasize the “in” while saying “In July”:

"Why? That doesn't make any sense. Sorry. There's no known way of saying an English sentence in which you begin a sentence with 'in' and emphasize it. … That's just stupid. 'In July?' I'd love to know how you emphasize 'in' in 'in July.' Impossible! Meaningless!"

When the session moved from frozen peas to ads for fish fingers and beef burgers, the now-sheepish directors attempt to stammer out some instructions. Welles's reply:

"You are such pests! ... In your depths of your ignorance, what is it you want?"

Why would the legendary director agree to shill for a frozen food company in the first place? According to author Josh Karp, whose book Orson Welles’s Last Movie chronicles the director’s odyssey to make a “comeback” film in the 1970s, Welles acknowledged the ad spots were mercenary in nature: He could demand upwards of $15,000 a day for sessions, which he could use, in part, to fund his feature projects.

“Why he dressed down the man, I can't say for sure,” Karp says. “But I know that he was a perfectionist and didn't suffer fools, in some cases to the extreme. He used to take a great interest in the ads he made, even when they weren't of his creation.”

The Findus session was leaked decades ago, popping up on radio and in private collections before hitting YouTube. Voiceover actor Maurice LaMarche, who voiced the erudite Brain in Pinky and the Brain, based the character on Welles and would recite his rant whenever he got the chance.

Welles died in 1985 at the age of 70 from a heart attack, his last film unfinished. While some saw the pea endorsement as beneath his formidable talents, he was actually ahead of the curve: By the 1980s, many A-list stars were supplementing their income with advertising or voiceover work.

“He was a brilliant, funny guy,” Karp says. “There's a good chance he'd think the pea commercial was hilarious.” If not, he’d obviously have no problem saying as much.

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How Google Chrome’s New Built-In Ad Blocker Will Change Your Browsing Experience
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If you can’t stand web ads that auto-play sound and pop up in front of what you’re trying to read, you have two options: Install an ad blocker on your browser or avoid the internet all together. Starting Thursday, February 15, Google Chrome is offering another tool to help you avoid the most annoying ads on the web, Tech Crunch reports. Here’s what Google Chrome users should expect from the new feature.

Chrome’s ad filtering has been in development for about a year, but the details of how it will work were only recently made public. “While most advertising on the web is respectful of user experience, over the years we've increasingly heard from our users that some advertising can be particularly intrusive,” Google wrote in a blog post. “As we announced last June, Chrome will tackle this issue by removing ads from sites that do not follow the Better Ads Standards.

That means the new feature won’t block all ads from publishers or even block most of them. Instead, it will specifically target ads that violate the Better Ad Standards that the Coalition for Better Ads recommends based on consumer data. On desktop, this includes auto-play videos with sound, sticky banners that follow you as you scroll, pop-ups, and prestitial ads that make you wait for a countdown to access the site. Mobile Chrome users will be spared these same types of ads as well as flashing animations, ads that take up more than 30 percent of the screen, and ads the fill the whole screen as you scroll past them.

These criteria still leave room for plenty of ads to show up online—the total amount of media blocked by the feature won’t even amount to 1 percent of all ads. So if web browsers are looking for an even more ad-free experience, they should use Chrome’s ad filter as a supplement to one of the many third-party ad blockers out there.

And if accessing content without navigating a digital obstacle course first doesn’t sound appealing to you, don’t worry: On sites where ads are blocked, Google Chrome will show a notification that lets you disable the feature.

[h/t Tech Crunch]

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