Competitive or Comparative Advertising

Powerful or Dangerous

If you’re convinced your product or service is better than your competitors, then comparative advertising could be the answer, on the other hand it could open a “can of worms.”

Comparative Advertising

Competitive or Comparative Advertising

It’s a style of advertising where you make direct or implied comparisons with a competitive product or products. It’s popular for example with budget supermarkets, comparing for example their price advantage on a tin of beans or similar. In this type of example, it can work well, it is a simple message and the products are interchangeable. Importantly, it is easily understood so is unlikely to upset the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Crucially, to work, what is claimed, must be irrefutably true. For sure, it will rattle the cages of the targeted competitor, who you can expect to retaliate.

For many years, some countries restricted or even banned such advertising. Now, within the EU, it’s allowable, but under close scrutiny from the standards enforcers.


The can of beans example works, but what if your offer is more complex. This can be a dangerous area for comparative advertising. Claims that you have the best, fastest or cheapest etc. can be difficult to prove. One tactic is to use data from a respected independent authority, the point here is the independence. The buying public are naturally suspicious of such claims.

If a competitor you name or indicate succeeds in undermining your claims, your campaign can finish up helping them more than you. If buyers feel you have made an attempt to dupe them with misleading claims, it will work against you.

In extreme cases, you could face legal damages for a competitors loss of business if they can prove your claims were misleading.

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