How Should Companies Properly Reposition A Competitor?

How Should Companies Properly Reposition A Competitor?

Comcast/Urlacher teaming highlights some key qualities that these kinds of campaigns should have to resonate with prospective customers.

The scene: a typical late-summer backyard barbecue.  As a guest reaches for a TV remote (because every suburban backyard has a handy flat screen, right?), suddenly the beefy paw of Chicago Bears star linebacker Brian Urlacher reaches in and shatters the remote. Urlacher then proceeds to shatter DirecTV, pointing out on a blackboard the satellite company’s hidden charges and contract restrictions.

Urlacher flips the blackboard to talk up cable provider Comcast/Xfinity’s benefits, all just in time for fall college/pro football games. And that’s the cue for three miniature characters with wings, looking suspiciously like the “football fairies” Deion Sanders and Eli Manning play in DirecTV’s commercials, to fly into view—only to be roughly backhanded by Urlacher right into the blackboard.

“No pixie dust. Just pigskin,” growls Urlacher, who without using X’s and O’s has successfully helped Comcast/Xfinity draw up a winning play—repositioning a competitor as a pricey entertainment option in these tough economic times.

Brands have been repositioning rivals since the dawn of advertising. Classic examples include Avis vs. Hertz, Tylenol vs. aspirin, Macs vs. PCs. The Comcast/Urlacher teaming highlights some key qualities that these kinds of campaigns should have to resonate with prospective customers:

  • Make ’Em Laugh – The barbecue’s guests react in an over-the-top manner to Urlacher’s complaints about DirecTV. Slapping the fairies into Neverland is also a nice touch. Humor always takes the sting out of a direct attack on a competitor.
  • Just the Facts, Ma’am – The charges and fees listed on the blackboard lend an air of credibility to these cartoonish proceedings. Sure, these “facts” are crying out for rebuttal from DirecTV, but this ain’t 60 Minutes, folks; numbers and data derived from research carry the weight of truth when used in ads (especially when sourced).
  • Accentuate The Positive – Comcast talks about the competitor, and then it quickly lists its own benefits, which include watching football games on mobile devices.

Successful repositioning campaigns have used these qualities as a way to take on competitors without appearing too shrill and heavy-handed. It’s okay to point out the differences between brands, but the potential for customer backlash is always there. The best way to score with repositioning? Make sure a brand’s product can, indeed, deliver on promises.

CI-Group, a New Jersey advertising agency, provides digital marketing and advertising consulting to Fortune 2000 companies in a wide range of industries. Founded nearly 30 years ago and based in Whitehouse, N.J., CI-Group is recognized as a top advertising agency specializing in marketing strategies, event marketing, promotions, direct marketing, digital printing, warehousing and fulfillment. Companies seeking an award-winning interactive agency that merges creative strategies with effective tactics should call 908-534-6100 or visit

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