Negative Ads Spread to Drive-Thru, Food Aisle

Tough economy forces brands to take pot shots at competitors
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Oct 2, 2008 4:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Perhaps inspired by politicians, marketers are stepping up the attacks in campaigns for consumers’ food dollars, the Wall Street Journal reports; complaints of misleading comparison ads are up 50% since last year. Hard times means marketers have to try harder to give consumers “a reason to buy you,” says the president of Domino's, currently trying to promote its sandwiches via a jab at Subway spokesman Jared.

The trick is to be hard-edged but not “overly aggressive,” adds a Campbell Soup executive, whose brand is marketed as being “made with TLC” in a spot ripping rival Progresso as “made with MSG.” Comparison ads have existed since the 1970s, but seem harsher “when hard times hit,” a marketer says. Even Nasdaq is in on the fun, glossing the rival New York Stock Exchange “the Not-So-Big Board.”