Attack of the attack ads

August 3, 2016

Lauren looks at ‘Attack’ advertising, also called ‘Comparative’ advertising which for a long time was illegal in Australia and by the time it was “okay”, it was kind of passe and that’s a good thing-

1. It’s fraught with danger
While comparative advertising is not illegal, advertising codes of conduct still apply. Mainly, it must not be misleading or deceptive, meaning it must be like for like in every way, and the ‘test conditions’ must be in real life. Another trap could be when you’re dealing with a product that rapidly changes, such as mobile phone deals, as it may be true and correct when you are planning your campaign, then change before or while you’re on air.

2. They rely on more attention
So as not to be misleading, comparative ads need to be driven by facts, and this means this type of advertising can be a bit dry with lots of stats and data. This also means more attention to detail needs to be given by the audience. A win for the brand? Possibly, however, with limited attention spans and busy lives there could be other more effective means to pull in your target market.

3. Aussie audiences demand more
Facts and data are not for everyone and Australian audiences are also savvy these days, tuning out to a hard sell. They want creativity, fun and something that stirs their emotions.

4. Negativity is always risky
Political advertising is a great example of the true meaning of attack advertising. They are all about gaining an advantage by highlighting the negative aspects of the opponent rather than their own positive attributes. And in Australia we love an underdog, so this tactic may backfire.

5. Would you spruik your competition?
Comparative advertising inevitably shares the spotlight with another brand and it needs to be weighed up whether this will be beneficial or detrimental. Perhaps this is why the United States is more comfortable with attack ads given they have a much larger market and target audience, and they can afford to give the competition even more airtime.


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