Branding, Comparative Warfare, and the Healthcare Debate
Over the last fifteen years I have helped numerous brands in using comparative ads to win over the consumer. If the decision has been made to directly target a competitor and prove brand superiority, the brand must be prepared to substantiate that claim. If challenged, all internal communication and research must be shared with federal agencies, TV networks, and the target brand; and it is therefore crucial that the research is designed to withstand this kind of critical challenge with pre-tests, national tests, and statistical analysis of results.
As I watch this healthcare debate from the outside, I see both the President Obama led Democratic Blue Brand and the Republican led Red Brand fighting to leave their mark in the people’s mind. Is this any different than two competitive brands fighting it out to tell the consumers that their brand offers the better solution?
Look, for example, at the Chicken wars in which California based El Polo Loco is fighting it out with Louisville, Kentucky based Kentucky Fried Chicken to win over the consumer’s mind for the brand who owns grilled chicken. El Polo Loco is holding true to its core equity, using the flame grilled method of cooking, and being the only brand who offers authentic grilled chicken. KFC, on the other hand, is working hard to build onto its equity of value and solve a perceived problem of the brand, unhealthy (fried only) food. Each brand is playing to its strength and playing hard in doing so.
Similar wars have been fought to own the people’s mind in the following cases:
- Pepsi vs. Coke
- Campbell vs. Progresso
- PC vs. Macintosh
- Gatorade vs. PowerAde
- Starbucks vs. Dunkin’ Donuts
In case of the healthcare debate, the battle is drawn on similar lines. The Democrats (Blue Brand) are trying to continue their core equity that won them the presidency and control of both houses, i.e. change and hope. The Republicans (Red Brand) are holding onto their core tactics of warning the people against too much government control.
To decide which brand’s grilled chicken is superior, I can do a taste test for myself and evaluate the claim of both brands. To decide which brand of health care is superior is another matter. The branding of Republicans and Democrats do not give me very much information to evaluate which brand’s claim is more valid for me.
I wonder how the network stations would judge if either of the two brands were challenged for “misleading advertising?”