Back in my agency days, one of my larger clients was a car brand. One of their models was to complete a certain milestone (in terms of the number of cars sold in India) and we were brainstorming on ideas for a creative, engaging way to share the milestone.
One of the ideas we had suggested was to let other cars in the same category, from other brands, to wish this car model. To avoid problems from competitors, we had the idea to not name any car directly, and only hint at which model cars they were, through the design/shape.
The client wasn’t sure about showing rivals cars even indirectly, and the idea died a natural death.
In another agency, for an e-commerce client, the team had suggested an idea for Friendship Day, that year. The plan was to let this e-commerce brand wish other e-commerce brands (vertical and horizontal) on the day, with customized, quirky notes.
The client did not go with the thought because they felt that as one of the market leaders they cannot name or engage with rival brands.
Given these disappointing outcomes in persuading clients to name rivals for one occasion or other on social media, I’m really glad that at least one agency has managed this feat! The agency is Why Axis, and the client that went with the plan, for Friendship Day 2020 was clothing brand, Indian Terrain.
Why Axis’ series of messages on Instagram named and tagged direct rivals boldly, with quirky notes using puns from those brand names.
So Allen Solly got a pun on Friday Dressing and the stag from their logo, while Arrow got a Brahmastra and bullseye. Gap, Van Heusen, USPA and Louis Philippe’s messages were to pretty plain and straight, but Peter England’s ‘England left’ and Tommy’s ‘We’ll figure’ puns were darn good.
It’s one thing to name other brands, like how Pepsi did recently as part of their ‘Heartwork’ campaign (see my post), but quite another to name direct rivals. Pepsi did not name direct rivals like Coca-Cola or Balaji Wafers, for context.
I don’t think these rival brands were consulted or their permission sought. And, perhaps understandably, none of the brands responded, despite being tagged. They probably were caught unawares and did not want to further offer the spotlight on one of their competitors naming and friending them on social media 🙂