Human brains are wired in such a way that everything we see reminds us of something
else. New products are automatically compared to old products in our minds the
instant we're aware of their existence. It's not something we can
help. It just happens. For this reason, product comparisons are one of the most
time-honored forms of advertising, particularly daytime infomercials. A product comparison ad takes the natural mental comparison instinct
and co-ops it by replacing the opinion the person would normally have formed
on their own with a pre-packaged one provided by the company. If you're
considering using product comparisons in your advertising campaign, here are some
hints and tips to think about.
Make Sure Your Product is Actually Better
Obviously the first thing you should do before setting up your product as better
than another in an advertisement is to make sure the assertion you're
making is actually true. It's easy to claim your product is better but
harder to make a superior product. No one likes a lair, and it won't take
long for your customers to find out you are one if they replace product with one they've had for years with new ones from your company and they break right away. If nothing else, run your own tests in-house beforehand
so you can at least know what to expect in a general sense.
Don't Trust Us, Trust Them
If you're dead set on using the actual name of another company in your
product comparison commercials, the claim that your product is better shouldn't
be based entirely on a few tests you did in-house. This can lead to accusations
that you cooked the data in your product's favor, since no one representing
the other company's interests was present during the test. In this situation
the best thing to do is use the results of independent researchers. There are
independent, not-for-profit consumer comparison foundations compiling statistics
on everything from the closing costs of a house to the cost of a cheeseburger
to which detergent gets out red wine stains better. So shop around, there's
bound to be some data you can quote somewhere, and the independent researcher's
name will save you from accusations of product misrepresentation.
Generic is the Key to Avoiding Lawsuits
If you're going to besmirch another product to further the prospects
of your own, your best business decision is to generalize the demon product
as much as possible to avoid libel or defamation lawsuits from the companies
you're comparing yourself to. In house tests might not be sufficient proof
to validate your claim and if there's no independent research to support
it you might end up paying for your mistake in court.
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