Comparative advertising is a marketing strategy that involves directly comparing a product or service with that of a competitor. It is often used in highly competitive industries where brands are vying for market share and consumer attention.
The rivalry between McDonald's and Burger King is a classic example of the use of comparative advertising. Both fast-food chains are major players in the industry and have been engaged in a long-standing battle for dominance. One way they have tried to gain an advantage over the other is through comparative advertising.
For instance, McDonald's launched a marketing campaign that directly compared the nutritional value of their Happy Meals with that of Burger King's Kids Meals. In the ads, McDonald's claimed that their Happy Meals had fewer calories, less sodium, and less fat than Burger King's Kids Meals.
Burger King responded with a counter-campaign that claimed that their Whopper burger was superior to McDonald's Big Mac. The ads showed taste tests in which participants preferred the Whopper over the Big Mac.
This type of advertising can be effective in capturing consumers' attention and influencing their purchasing decisions. However, it can also be risky, as it may result in legal challenges or backlash from consumers who perceive the ads as negative or aggressive.
Can it be done legally?
In some countries, it may be legal to mock or disparage a competitor in advertising, while in other countries, it may be considered illegal or unethical. The legal rules regarding comparative advertising can vary depending on the jurisdiction, and it is important for advertisers to understand the regulations in their target market.
In the United States, for example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) allows comparative advertising as long as the claims are truthful and not misleading. However, the FTC also has guidelines that prohibit advertisers from making false or unsubstantiated claims about their competitors or engaging in unfair or deceptive practices.
In some cases, mocking a competitor in advertising may cross the line into defamation or unfair competition, which can lead to legal action. For example, if an ad makes false or misleading claims about a competitor, it may be considered libellous or slanderous and result in a lawsuit.
Comparative or Supportive Advertising?
Besides the rivalry between these two giant fast-food chains, they got some love going on. For instance, Burger King once had a campaign that made people buy from McDonald’s instead. The campaign was “A Day Without Whopper” on the same day as McD’s campaign to help children with cancer every Big Mac sold. The internet responded so well towards Burger King, saying that their campaign was more understanding than the other one. Was this calculated by the marketing team? Probably.