The Argument Against Negative Advertising

October 2013 - Ad Blog PostFall is here, and in the United States in particular, that means another season has also arrived: election season. Last year, election season in the U.S. was even more chaotic due to the Presidential race. Between the phone calls, direct mail pieces and television ads, it was hard to not know at least a little bit about the candidates and what was transpiring.

Almost twelve months later, I still think about all of the commercials I watched and postcards I received. In general, one thought comes to mind: so many of the messages delivered were negative, and a lot of mudslinging ensued. Instead of highlighting the great things a candidate did to better him or herself, he or she chose to promote the negative attributes of the opposing candidate.

To me, this negative advertising / campaigning by candidates is not the right path to go down. And, I don’t think it’s the right path for business owners to go down either when advertising their products or services. Here’s why: even though you are putting down the competition’s services or products… you are still mentioning the competition.

For example, on television right now there is a commercial comparing the Apple® iPad® to the newest edition of the Microsoft Surface™. It shows them both side by side, with the narrator being the voice of Siri (the ‘personal assistant’ on Apple’s iPhones®, iPads® and the iPod touch®). The commercial highlights everything the iPad doesn’t have that the Surface does, including a USB port, a keyboard and the ability to be set upright.

When I first heard this commercial (while I was out of the living room, not actually watching the commercial), I heard Siri’s voice and immediately associated it with Apple. To be honest, I didn’t even really comprehend what she was saying; I just knew it was her voice. Then, when I watched it, I saw the iPad®  throughout the entire commercial. It wasn’t as though it was shown once and then removed. It was there, in plain sight, with listeners hearing Siri along the way.

While I’m sure many viewers get the point that the Surface is superior to the iPad, it still gives Apple’s products a lot of face time. To me, it’s almost like free advertising for Apple (although certainly not as good as their own advertising would be).

The next time you want to implement an advertising campaign for your business, keep it positive. Promote what’s great about your services and how you make life easier for your customers. Show how your products – and only yours – can be used and what special features are included. Whether it’s print or digital, make sure your product or logo is prominently displayed. Offer reviews from your customers on why they love working with you, or why they choose your solutions.

Most importantly, leave the competition out of it. Let your customer service and top-notch solutions speak for themselves. You have worked hard to build your brand recognition, so let it shine and rise to the top. Your positivity will trump the negativity.


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