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Brand Feuds: Not Always a Bad Thing

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With the advent of social media and the ability for people to react to news, gossip, television shows, and advertising in real time, a whole new way of engaging with friends, celebrities, and, yes, brands was created. Whether we want to sing someone’s praises or lodge a complaint, all it takes now is a few keystrokes to get that message out into the world to start a dialogue. The formality disappeared, as did the wall that kept "us" from "them." Suddenly, everyone and everything had a level of accessibility like never before, and with that accessibility came a level of familiarity that fostered the ability for normal folks, stars, and advertisers to use humor is brand new way.

Perhaps the first and best example of this is one from last year, when Old Spice and Taco Bell went back and forth on a Twitter in a teasing way that left us liking both brands even more than before… Though we do have to claim Old Spice the victor in this battle.

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Both brands received a lot of positive press for this quirky interaction, so, not surprisingly, it wasn’t long before others tried to get in on the action. Here are a few examples of ones that worked well and others that, well… you be the judge.

Oreo and AMCTheatres

Oreo asked a harmless question of their followers: Ever bring your own Oreos to the movies? Oreo was using a classic strategy to evoke engagement: ask a simple question and get people tweeting back at you. Little did they expect for AMC to jump in…

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After all, everyone knows you’re not allowed to sneak your own food into the movies! (A fine rule, which we think anyone who’s ever been stuck next to the guy eating Chinese food will agree.)

There was a little more back and forth...

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But we think it’s pretty clear who won this one.

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Winner: AMC Theatres

Volkswagen and Red Stripe

Thanks to Twitter, it’s easier than ever for people to express their opinions on, well, everything. One of the things people love to discuss is commercials, especially commercials during big events. When Volkswagen ran their “Get Happy” commercial during the Super Bowl (you know, the one where a guy from Minnesota has a Jamaican accent), people were quick to call racism.

But was it? Red Stripe, a Jamaican beer company, took it under review.

We love that Red Stripe seized the opportunity to take something potentially negative and turn it into a positive… for BOTH brands.

Winner: Red Stripe

Oreo and Kit Kat

We’re clearly huge fans of Oreo’s social media marketing around here, proven by the fact that they made this list twice. This time they were set up perfectly with the help of a Twitter fan and Kit Kat.

Can tell I like chocolate abit too much when I'm following @kitkat and @oreo hahahahahah

— LauraEllen (@Laura_ellenxx) March 11, 2013

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Kit Kat saw this Tweet as the perfect opportunity for a friendly battle. Which they announced in an incredibly clever way: they were “X”s Oreo was “O”s.

The fight for @laura_ellenxx's affections is on. @oreo your move #haveabreak

— KITKAT (@KITKAT) March 13, 2013

But then...

Sorry, @kitkat we couldn't resist ... #GiveOreoABreak…

— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) March 13, 2013

Winner: It’s a close one, but we’ve got to give this one to Oreo.

Charmin and Crest

We love Charmin’s Twitter feed for the most part, but this is one instance where we think the brand tried a little too hard.

Anyone else panic when you forget your smartphone and all you have to read is the back of a @crest toothpaste? #tweetfromtheseat

— Charmin(@Charmin) March 5, 2013

. @charmin :) Just be sure you "squeeze from the bottom..."#TweetFromTheSeat…

— Crest (@Crest) March 5, 2013

What works: Most of us don’t talk about it, but we do like to have reading material on hand for long trips to the bathroom.

What doesn’t work: If you didn’t know that both brands were Procter & Gamble before, it’s pretty obvious now. As a result, this feels like more of a marketing ploy than an authentic conversation.

Winner: No one. The key to making these types of "feuds" work is being playful, personal, and genuine. This interaction feels like it was dreamed up in a marketing meeting. And we don’t mean that in a good way.

BMW and Audi

Even though most of this brand vs. brand repartee is happening on the Web, it’s not just limited to social media and video. In fact, the chess match between BMW and Audi is one of our favorite examples out there. In part just due to the fact that conceiving and getting a billboard up takes so much more time than composing a Tweet. There’s something to be said for effort.

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Personally, for Audi’s benefit, we feel it should have stopped there, but Audi, unwilling to concede the match, posted another billboard saying "Your pawn is no match for our king."

Unfortunately for Audi, BMW brought out a Zeppelin with an F1 car, tethered it to their billboard and well, the Zepplin said it all: Game over.

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Winner: BMW.

Feuding between brands is nothing new. Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been doing it for so long that it’s actually become tired and, in a way, a turn-off. We get it: you don’t like each other. Calm down though; neither of you is going anywhere. Ever.

What makes the examples above enjoyable and not stale is that, for the most part, they’re whimsical, clever, and done in good fun. Bitter is so last century.

Seen any brands feuds you like? Let us know in the comments.

Related: Why Your Social Content Strategy Sucks (and How to Fix It)

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