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Are you worried that people won't think your product is the greatest thing since sliced bread? Do you feel that your product won't sell if people think a rival product is good enough, especially if it's the leading brand? Then you should try the all new miracle advertising method of the Strawman Product!
Take flaws that most people find mere annoyances, or outright make flaws up, and crank them up to So Bad Its Horrible levels. While your work will only have a beautiful fresh shine with every use. Soon people will begin to wonder how they even functioned using the other, godawful products.
These are some of the exciting uses for this method:
- Having everyone in the ad prefer your product.
- Portraying the rival product as uncool.
- Making it look as though the product is impossible to use, even though it seems those people just Cannot Operate a Blanket.
- Making it look as though the product can't do something your product can easily do, even though nobody would ever use it that way in real life.
- For political ads, portraying the opposing candidate or position as a Strawman Political.
This marketing technique has served over one million customers already!
So call now, and get the hottest trend in bullshi... we mean marketing, today!.
Contrast Our Product Sucks.
- "I'm a Mac." "And I'm a PC."
- This advertising campaign is the embodiment of this trope. It doesn't just slightly fit it. It's as outrageous and blatant as the above description.
- The Mac is shown as a young, cool guy who is always calm because he's always right. The PC is a fat guy in a suit with glasses who freaks out and goes ballistic because he's always wrong. It's like the same-sex version of Defenestrate and Berate.
- Many commercials have a lot of "customers" who always prefer Macs without stating sufficient reasons other than "It's better."
- They always claim that "any PC" will have "a bunch of viruses and headaches" and that Macs have none.
- If you think these are bad, you probably haven't seen the first Macintosh ad, portraying themselves as a heroically hot Action Girl, their opponents as a totalitarian state specifically modeled after 1984, and their opponent's customers as a bunch of hypnotized drones whom Apple is here to "save." Yeah.
- The way Pepsi ads portrayed Coke in the '80s and '90s.
- Johnny Turbo of the Turbo Grafx 16 and his attempts to punch out the evil corporation of Sega who sold the product of Sega CD solely to see the look of despair on their little faces when they realized they needed a Sega Genesis to use it.
- Sega was this trope back in the days. More than half their ads were just bashing their rival company (usually Nintendo) in 'creative' ways. We all know the 'Genesis does what Nintendon't' one, which chastised the NES for being 8 bits lower than the Genesis. When the SNES came out, they found the only thing they could say was better about the Genesis was its slightly lower price, so they included a kid screaming at this 'higher price' in fear. Even though they were only about $50 (one game) apart?
- Don't forget ... the Genesis's DMA controller had BLAST PROCESSING.
- There was also the Game Gear versus the Game Boy. Fans didn't bite.
- On a side note, as the Nerd pointed out 3DO ads went out of their way to say that the SNES and Genesis were just toys compared to the awesomeness of the 3DO.
- MCI ran some really nasty anti-AT&T ads in the early '80s.
- Mad Magazine parodied the rivalry between car rental companies Avis and Hertz in The Seventies with a "war" of insulting ads between the two. The punchline was that the companies have actually staged the rivalry to monopolize people's attention, and having done so they proceed to merge and move on to crushing all the smaller car rental companies. In The Eighties, they recycled the premise and punchline to poke fun at the Coke-Pepsi rivalry.
- Quiznos did a fair number bashing rival Subway. What's funny is that they brag about how they toast their sandwiches, even though Subway now also offers that option.
- One of the best of the Quiznos vs. Subway commercials would be the one where the "randomly selected test subject" is asked which sandwich he prefers, the Quiznos sandwich, or the Subway sandwich. The test subject chooses the Subway sandwich, primarily because in addition to cold cuts and cheese, the bread has been stuffed with "extra lettuce" - i.e., hundred dollar bills.
- A lot of the Quiznos ads also bragged about how their sandwiches were so much bigger than Subway's. Subway's response? Turn the attack against Quiznos by pointing out that their smaller sandwiches are healthier. This would not be the last time that Subway used "healthier food" as a selling point. Isn't that right, Jared?
- Subway constantly treats "fast food" as a Strawman Product, regardless of the fact that many people are capable of eating other fast-food chains' food in moderation and the fact that depending on what you put on your Subway sandwich, it may not even be any healthier.
- Subway also likes to poke fun at the traditional "assembly line" strategy that most fast-food restaurants use, with the idea that "special orders" are not allowed. This is despite the fact that most fast-food restaurants do special orders and some do not even make the food until the transaction is complete.
- Alltel commercials have the Sales Guys who are straw spokesmen for Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint. If you were expecting the straw Verizon guy trashtalking the Alltel guy when Verizon bought Alltel, you were in for a disappointment: The real Verizon guy and Chad finally met and the Sales Guys were nowhere to be seen.
- Bing.com represents its competitors using humans who communicate like search engines. This implies that their product is a search engine that communicates like a human.
- Also crosses over with Cannot Operate a Blanket; even the most novice Google user can get more relevant results than the search-engine-humans provide.
- In infomercials for a type of pot with strainer lid attachment, the Luddites using the old standby of separate pot and strainer would be seen practically hurling all the components towards the sink in the apparent hope that they would magically combine into strained pasta. They would then proceed to look surprised and dismayed at the unavoidable mess their stone age cooking technology has caused.
- Every Cable-Satellite Mudslinging ad ever.
- You cannot legally do that in several European countries; so when an ad comes out doing exactly that you know that the two "rival" companies are actually owned by the same stock board. Additional irony if they're the only two choices you have.
- Instead, the marketing resorts to "standard products" or "other products". In one comedy sketch, the CEO of the firm "Standard Products" was complaining about how everybody else picks on them.
- Parodied in an episode of Mr. Show, where a national chain of supermarkets runs an increasingly slanderous series of ads against their mom-and-pop competitor. Among their boasts is that at their store, unlike at certain other stores, you'll always find apples, rats don't crawl all over the food, and your children will not be kidnapped by a white slavery ring.
- This cracked article.
- One particularly bad anti-DSL ad (placed by Buckeye Cablesystem) talked about how dangerous DSL phone line service was. The revelation the the "free" dsl modem actually cost $49 before rebate wasn't so bad. The next part, in which the advertiser vastly overstates the issue of placing a filter on every phone jack (the phone company provided 8 filters, more than adequate) was worse, especially the part where they said "and your home security system may not work without one" complete with rapid camera movement and eerie sound warbling. The end of the ad really took the cake, in which the announcer threw up his hands in dismay as he went through the installations steps, which he listed (insert filter into phone jack, run dsl cable from phone jack to modem, connect modem to computer, install software) then stalked off, infuriated, after the "install software" part, which was the last step.
- Listerine, way back before it became known, had a significant problem: its primary use, mouthwash, wasn't saleable. The solution was an ad campaign designed to make halitosis (aka bad breath) into a much bigger problem than it had conventionally been, and therefore sell more mouthwash. It worked.
- In Australia at least, Energizer advertises its batteries as lasting three times as long as Duracell's; Duracell advertises its batteries as lasting three times as long as Energizer's. While one would think this would require either Blatant Lies or infinite-capacity batteries and the destruction of the Universe, it turns out they're both comparing their own long-life batteries to the competition's high-power-but-short-life batteries.
- In the late 90s there was a big EarthLink ad campaign aimed at luring AOL users to their service. One radio commercial had a disgruntled AOL user desperately calling EarthLink to switch. When the EarthLink rep told her that they would automatically notify everyone on her Buddy List of her new email address once she switched, the lady shrieked "They're not my buddies! They're just a bunch of freaks who instant-messaged their way into my life!" Even in the attitude-filled 90s, insulting your would-be customers then asking them to switch to your product was an odd marketing strategy.
- A series of radio ads for Progressive car insurance has "listeners" calling in and asking whether they should shop around for car insurance or just go with their parent's company. Are these people calling in expecting that Flo will say, "you should just stick with whatever your parents have"?
- The weirder part is that every (obviously pre-recorded and highly edited) ad claims it's "live"...
- Verizon often airs ads which blatantly show off how much cell coverage their service provides by overlapping it in Red spots on a US Map. And will often times, compare their service area to AT&T's, which will have significantly less coverage area, represented in blue.
- The kicker is that AT&T airs ads which use the same US map, with the exact same coverage representation, except inverted, with AT&T having the superior coverage area in be in Blue, and the inferior Verizon in Red. On both maps, usually the places that don't get coverage are places where most cell phone providers wouldn't work.
- United Van Lines has commercials where they say that customers should only hire their competitors if they want their belongings set on fire, infested with wild animals or stolen by vagabonds.
- A well-known Urban Legend has two rival salmon canners, one selling pink salmon, the other selling white, trying to outsell each other. The white salmon canner takes out an ad touting their salmon "won't turn pink in the can!" Not to be outdone, the pink salmon canner takes out an ad touting that they don't use bleach in processing.
- A series of ads for GM's Good Wrench service depicted a rival mechanics shop as being staffed entirely by rude, apathetic and incompetent long-haired young punks.
- Advertising law in the UK used to outlaw this style of ad, but deregulation during the 2000s saw it permitted.
- Painkiller ads are notorious for this. "1 Tylenol will last for a zillion hours, it takes umpteen Advil to do that." Generally they're comparing their long-duration brand to their competitor's standard brand. Also, there are instances of the very next ad after the Tylenol one, on the same station, being "1 Advil will last for a zillion hours, it takes umpteen Tylenol to do that".
- For a while, Total was fond of counting how many extra bowls of other cereals one would need to eat for the same amount of nutrition.
- Parodied on The Simpsons; the family visits EPCOT and goes on an educational ride about electric cars, sponsored by "the oil companies of America". The ride, which moves slow and jerkily, proclaims that as an electric car it's slow, can't go very far, and that if you drive it everyone will think you're gay.