4 Famous Brand Wars: How it made the World a Better and Interesting Place

by . September 18th, 2012

With the release of the much-awaited iPhone 5, Samsung, one of Apple’s fiercest rivals, came out with a full-page ad in the New York times yesterday. Samsung gave a vicious swipe at Apple by claiming that the Samsung Galaxy SIII is way better than the fruity one’s latest offering and that it doesn’t take a genius to know that Samsung was the first to release a revolutionary phone.


This latest swipe on Apple’s iPhone 5 is a classic example of Direct Comparison Ads. By the name itself, Direct Comparison Ads employs witty and sometimes vicious tactics to undermine a competing product or service. This is also to sway the current patrons of the competing product to change their views and influence the opinions of potential clients.

These adverts spark public interest and commentary, but they also helped push competing brands to innovate and develop something new and better to topple the competition. With that said, we here in YTD would like to showcase some of the most creative and outrageous Direct Comparison Ads that not only shook and entertained but influenced the world as we know it.

Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi

You are too young or have been living under the rock for the past century if you don’t know a thing or two about the fizzy war between Coke and Pepsi.

One of the most famous Pepsi advertisements back then was this one:

Pepsi Godfather

The war between the two soft-drink giants started with the Pepsi Challenge back in the 70s, where people were asked to take a sip and decide which was a better cola between Coke and Pepsi. Of course, being a Pepsi Challenge, Pepsi declared itself the winner since people then wanted their soft drinks to be sweeter. On the other hand, Coca-Cola came back with a subtle, if not non-direct, attack on Pepsi with the launch of “Coke,” which boasts that it tastes better than before, but this was sadly halted since people preferred the original taste of Coca-Cola.

While Pepsi always seems to make fun of Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola never tries to attack Pepsi directly. Instead, the company improves its products and goes for the emotional approach rather than fighting Pepsi on its terms.

Coca-Cola Mean Joe Green

Up to now, no one knows who is the better soda maker, but one thing is for sure both Coca-Cola and Pepsi will surely quench that thirst.

Billboard War Between BMW & Audi

Things are much more interesting in the automobile world. Car companies such as BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and the like have been seen trying to out-stage each other. Whether on billboards or in magazines, these car magnates produced some of the most creative and hilarious one-line taunts against competing companies. One of the most famous battles was between Audi and BMW, starting on a simple billboard in Los Angeles, C.A.

It all started with this innocent ad and was later changed into…

and BMW’s response was…

Audi turned onto its fan base on Facebook and asked its fans to come up with a witty comeback to answer BMW’s counter. The fan’s responses were amusing at their best.

Just when everyone taught that the war was over, Audi gave the eager followers of the billboard war a new piece to talk about:

But as soon as Audi’s latest rebuttal came out, BMW was quick to respond with something mightier than a billboard, and as it turns out, BMW tied a blimp to Audi’s billboard.


 Most think this billboard war is one of the most exciting, if not outrageous, in the advertising world. At the same time, other people think both campaigns are childish, but it will not deny the fact that both BMW and Audi had a significant increase in sales thanks to this exciting match of machines.

Mac vs. PC

Even before the world-famous Get a Mac advert series came out, Mac and PC (in this case, IBM) were already dishing out severe attacks on a white background on why you should choose a PC or a Mac.

In the first half of the video, IBM claims that it can churn information way better, while Mac attacks IBM with the premise that Mac is easy to use since you don’t have to go through binders of instruction. Fast forward to modern times when Apple produced the hit TV spot Get a Mac campaign, giving Windows a serious run for its money. The 66 TV spots ran for four years and have been highly lauded as one of the funniest, if not creative, TV spots that came out.

Of course, Windows does not want to go down without a fight, and it came out with the Laptop Hunters series.

Mac and PC still continue to one-up each other, but it seems Apple is being targeted by companies other than Windows to topple Apple’s current market standing. Such companies as Samsung and Google’s Android OS (vs. iOS). Passionate fans of both sides continue to try and prove their supremacy over the other in forums and youtube comments.

Avis vs. Hertz

The Avis vs. Hertz campaign is a classic example of Direct Comparison Ads. Going back to 1962, Hertz was America’s undisputed car rental servicewhile Avis was slowly sinking into the mire of financial ruin since they only had 11% of the market share, and added to the fact that they hadn’t made a profit in 13 years. Bill Bernbach was given the task to create an ad that not only would save Avis but will also put it on a steadier footing. Bernbach enlisted art director Helmut Krone and writer Paula Green in the project and what they did was simple. They told everyone the truth. Avis admitted that Hertz was the no. 1 in the car rental industry, but Avis says they always try harder.

Avis not only told the truth but also made Hertz look complacent, indifferent, and a big mean corporate giant, aiding Avis to have a steadier foothold in the industry. After the launch of the infamous “We, try harder” campaign, Avis’ market share increased by 35%, and it got them into the minds of the consumer as a hard-working and earnest company.

 The Avis vs. Hertz campaign only proves that sometimes being brutally honest is enough to drive a point home and change people’s minds regarding service.

No one is really the clear winner but whichever side you choose there is only one thing for sure, without this competition between brands. Humanity would stagnate in developing newer and better products that will make our lives easier and more enjoyable. The very same thing goes for design. We, designers, should always try our best to innovate and create exciting things, whether a simple poster or a business card.

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