From the desk of Kayla Vanstone, adHOME Intern.
This week’s Breakfast Club it was my turn to present, so we explored the latest in brand wars and rivalries. Some brand rivalries have existed for as long as we can remember – namely Coke vs. Pepsi – while others are in the infant stages of their enemyship.
One that’s made headlines recently in Ontario is French’s vs. Heinz. Last year, Heinz released a mustard, and French’s ketchup came out, seemingly in response. Recently, there’s been a whir in the social media world due to Heinz’s factory closing in Leaminton, Ontario. The factory employed 750 people, so when French’s stepped in and began using the locally grown Leamington tomatoes, it was a big help to the town. From the start, French’s has been allowing word of mouth do it’s advertising work, and has branded it’s ketchup as a more natural alternative to Heinz, while Heinz has released breakup commercials to market their new mustard.
Since my presentation, Loblaws announced that it was dropping French’s ketchup due to low sales. Within the week, consumer backlash was enough to get Loblaws to say that they would now be restocking the ketchup and it should be back soon enough, if it was ever even gone.
Next up, Coke and Pepsi. These two big brands have been warring for longer than anyone can remember, since the late 1800s. These days, things are moving away from the classic cola and sodas, into new (or perhaps even older?) territory. Water. In what has been called “the marketing trick of the century” the big brands have presented bottled water as a healthy alternative to their sugary sodas, pushing tap water out of the equation. They’re also going for sparkling and flavoured waters in the near future, as well as “craft sodas.” That is, sodas in stylized glass bottles with a higher price tag. The companies are hoping to capture the “hipster” market with something a little more nostalgic and niche.
Then there’s DC and Marvel, the two big comic book companies that have existed since the 1930s. The two companies are releasing a couple of big movies this year. Both movies, Captain America: Civil War and Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, are about the movie’s protagonist superheroes battling each other.
Hasbro and Mattel is the last brand war we talked about. While Mattel has Barbie and Hot Wheels, Hasbro’s got Disney dolls (read Elsa dolls) and Star Wars. Recently, the companies have been meeting to discuss a merger. The other big competitor in the toy market is Lego, whose building blocks have surpassed the other two companies as the biggest toy brand. While Lego has become a more universal toy, Hasbro and Mattel are struggling to keep up with the times and make toys that aren’t too specific to gender roles. Their toys seem to be divided into more distinct categories by their marketing efforts, like dolls and action figures – which are possibly just the same thing.
It is important for us at adHOME to keep up with these brand wars and see what companies are doing in reaction to direct competitor’s not so subtle attacks. We like to know what’s going on with these rivalries, not just because we’re definitely going to see those superhero movies, but also because we’re interested to see which marketing techniques these brands use to get ahead.