The battle of the brands: Iconic Brand Rivalries


Rivalry has been a dominant entity since time immemorial. History is replete with standoffs between emperors of past known and unknown, sports rivalry to political battles, the same goes for the business world. With many old guards folding up and the new kids on the block taking over, competition has never been as thick and cut-throat as it has been over the past few decades. Brand Wars has always been about who has the better hand and how a brand sways the market and consumer allegiance. There are brands which have been known to be far ahead of any competition in their sector. But at the same time, there are also some brands which have been rivals for years. This article lists out some of these brand rivals and their remarkable brand rivalry.

Godrej and Ikea

With the entry of the Swedish furniture giant IKEA, the Indian furniture market has turned extremely interesting and competitive. IKEA opened its first store in Hyderabad on Aug’18, and ever since then, there was huge noise. Godrej Interio on this occasion came up with an interesting ambush marketing strategy to target their audience and create noise. In a series of social media ads, the brand took a dig at IKEA. Highlighting the various features like free installation, warranty, free delivery service, Godrej Interio came across witty in their creatives.

Hindu vs Times of India

To create dissonance among The Hindu readers in Chennai, The Times of India launched its first salvo against The Hindu portraying the choice as boring.  The Hindu, in response to the TVC, identified the chink in TOI’s armor and produced a laughable repartee after 3 months, naming the tail if the sting as “Stay ahead of the times.” It is said that TOI woke up a sleeping giant because The Hindu did not stop with TVCs, they also launched print ads where TOI’s portrayal of news was stated as confinement to Bollywood affairs, adding masala to simple news and making them aggressive. To this, The TOI woke up to a sarcastic response and the ad wars continued. With no-nonsense and a conservative image, no one anticipated that The Hindu would come up with such a response.

Patanjali vs Lever Ayush

In Hindustan Unilever’s campaign for Lever Ayush which was set up to mock Patanjali, the actor in an all-Indian attire looks into the camera exhorting consumers to go beyond the superficial when choosing ayurvedic products. As HUL takes on Patanjali, positioning its Ayush brand as a trusted name for herbal, natural and chemical-free personal care products, it is open season for claims, counter-claims, and competitive advertising.

Kingfisher Vs Jet Airways

The war started when Kingfisher, “The king of good times” was having a good time in the Indian Aviation market. The airline was quickly gaining market share from rivals Jet Airways. The carrier was identified for its royal treatment provided to its patrons. In its panic, Jet Airways embarked on an Rs. 10 crore campaign to publicize its rebranding through its “We have changed” ad campaign. Jet insisted that they have grown consumer friendly and more services are on offer. But, Kingfisher through “Equus Advertising” resorted to the ways of Ambush marketing and hijacked the campaign from Jet Airways. The Jet hoarding at Cadbury Junction, near Jet CEO Naresh Goyal’s residence, was superseded by a Kingfisher billboard saying “We made them Change.”

The jet wasn’t intimated by this ambush and pulled out from the campaign. They later pronounced daily flights to New York through their hoarding “Take off to New York Daily,” but even this wasn’t spared. Within days Kingfisher placed a hoarding saying “They’ve flown from here to New York.” A year later, Jetlite and Deccan airways (Now, Kingfisher Red), got entwined in an ad war. Indeed, the airlines were not making much profit, but they provided their fair share of amusement to the Indian public.

kingfisher vs jet airways

Image Credits: Adgully

Apple vs Samsung

Samsung started with a print advertisement clearing mentioning Apple’s name that it has additional features than its core rival. Apple didn’t take much time in replying by publishing a print advertisement similarly. When the advertisement war was heating up, Blackberry came into the scene and launched a TV commercial mentioning about its superior touch. Now after a shorter while Samsung released another video advertisement, showing its extreme well features which Apple can’t compete. Samsung released a sequel of this ad, mentioning more features, which Apple doesn’t have. Samsung seems unstoppable while it comes to directly competing in advertisements and to stay ahead. It released another print advertisement. This was released precisely at that time when Apple got struck by the “bendable iPhone 6 ” issues.


It all started with a billboard in Los Angeles, CA. In a few days, Audi replaced the billboard with a new billboard which challenged BMW. As expected, BMW did respond by buying a billboard just across the street. Audi turned to its Facebook fans, and the fans came up with some smart photo-shopped pics to which BMW fans replied.   Finally, Audi replied back and put up this billboard. Later BMW moved it’s billboard to some other place and the billboard ad war came to an end.

Pepsi vs Coke

Coke and Pepsi are the two brands which are known for their rivalry. The soft drink market is almost a duopoly market especially when it comes to cola wars. Whenever a marketer wants to take an example of brand rivalry, his discussion will be incomplete without making the case of Pepsi vs. Coke. It all started with a print ad by Pepsi on the Fools’ Day 2000 which read, “We love Coca-Cola.” Coke has always behaved as the elder brother who is more mature and reserved and only wants what is best for the family. But Pepsi, on the other hand, has always taken on the elder brother and ensured that it is not hunky dory for the worlds leading cola brand. Both have had all kinds of wars including price wars, distribution wars, and trade discount/scheme wars.

Tide Vs Rin

On February 25, 2010 HUL challenged the Tide Natural’s claim in the Madras High Court that P&G’s Tide Naturals did not contain lemon and chandan and convinced the court that P&G should drop the word `Naturals’ from the name and merely displaying a disclaimer”It does not contain lemon and chandan” was not enough. On February 28th, the Indian market the very bold comparative advertising on the television screens that took comparative advertising to new heights. Rin launched a commercial comparing Rin and Tide naturals. In the ad the boy using rin questions “ AUNTY CHAUNK KYU GAYI ?” with the obvious reference to tide caption “ CHAUNK GAYE !” Thus claiming better whiteness than tide naturals at an affordable price. The advertisement took advantage of the break in the court due to a long weekend. The Rin commercial, launched on February 28, 2010,  openly compared Rin and Tide Naturals, with a claim of delivering better whiteness at an affordable price. The voiceover “Tide se kahin behtar safedi de Rin (Rin washes much whiter than Tide)” leaves nothing to the imagination. It was so open and direct that Kolkata High Court passed an ad interim order that restrained Hindustan Unilever Ltd from advertising its recent Rin ad and also barred HUL from showing any such ads in the future.

Mac vs PC

The advertising war campaigns are incomplete without bringing up the classic battle between Mac and PC. It all started with the Get A Mac comparative advertising campaign back in 2006. It depicted the two sides: Apple’s all-white background with a casually dressed actor, Justin Long, who presented himself as “Hello, I’m a Mac,” and John Hodgman dressed in a suit and tie, presented himself as “And I’m a PC.” The ads showcased short sketches to compare the capabilities of Mac and PC. PC was portrayed as polite and secure compared to Mac who was more confident, friendly, and stylish. In late 2008, Microsoft responded with their very own ad, “I’m a PC.” It featured celebrities, public figures, and ordinary citizens who all chant ‘I’m a PC’ in different environments. Apple did not wait long to respond to Microsoft’s ad campaign, “I’m a PC.” Below is Apple’s answer to the ad Microsoft released. It showed how the PC was going to spend all of its revenue on advertising rather than working on solutions to the problems inherent in Vista.

Microsoft vs Google

Longtime rivals Microsoft and Google are continually looking for ways to top one another. In March 2013, Google released an ad titled Chrome: Now Everywhere to promote its browser. Two months later, Microsoft came up with an ad campaign titled Scroogled to warn Chrome users that Google is breaching their privacy. Microsoft parodied Google Chrome’s ad by releasing an ad titled Microsoft Internal Google Chrome Bouncing Ball Now Everywhere, claiming that Chrome tracks everything they do. In mid-November, Microsoft’s Scroogled campaign even started selling merchandise with anti-Google messages. Google responded with a few witty remarks, saying “Microsoft’s latest venture comes as no surprise; competition in the wearables space is heating up.” Google also suggested that while Microsoft was busy selling t-shirts, Google was working hard on Google Glass.

Horlicks vs Complan

If the claims of the energy drinks like Horlicks or Complan are to be believed, parents don’t have much contribution to their child’s physical or mental wellbeing. Both, the brands claim that they make kids “Exam ready,” whatever that means. They enhance memory retention and also help in the physical growth of the child. They back their claims through some unknown study at an unknown institute. Horlicks, to assert its superiority in the energy drinks market came up with an advert which carried out a direct comparison with Complan. Complan packs were shown and were called “cheap” in this advertisement. In the second advertisement by Complan, a Horlicks mom asks the Complan Mummy how her son was so tall and strong. The Complan mother then expounds on the virtues of Horlicks after which she asks the Horlicks mother: “have you ever read the label of cheap Horlicks?”. This is followed by the Complan mom explaining to the Horlicks mom that Horlicks is made of cheap products and ingredients which means less nourishment & protein. The ad ends with a voiceover praising Complan.

The world has become a battleground for the brands, and it is not survival of the fittest brand anymore, but the one which is wittiest and smartest. Brands are ready to take the competition to any level, and there are numerous examples where they have crossed over the line of subtleness. Want your brand to win the battle? Strawberry Branding is here to cast a brand spell on your customers.

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