Continued from part I....
To recap from part one where I left you with…
1. Comparative advertising is a form of advertising in which two or more named or recognizable brands of the same product class are compared and the comparison is made in terms of one or more product attributes. That is definition but the clause of the SAME PRODUCT CLASS MAY CHANGE AND STILL IT COULD BE CALLED COMPARATIVE ADVERTISING)
2. The comparisons can be:-
a. implicit (brands implied but not named), or explicit (brands named);
b. the comparisons can be vocal or visual;
c. and the claims can be of complete advantage, of supremacy on some attributes but not on others, or of parity;
d. And the advertised brand can have a market share smaller than, roughly equal to, or greater than the comparison brand. (Even the leader can compare but why the hell?)
3. Regulations and norms about comparative advertising differ around the world, (some have no rules while others have tough ones.. some are liberal like the US ( see the Pepsi joy of life ad and you will know how liberal is liberal..) While in some like India it takes time to interpret as is the case in the Horlicks vs Complan court battle now.
Now getting on….I have answered a couple of phone calls and many mails and scraps on this topic particularly from friends who haven’t gone and lived abroad. Now that gives me enough reason to conclude that this is a cultural shock and may be to an extend when it happens more , when more brands compare and get compared the average viewer in India will get accustomed to the fact that the compared and the comparing are all the same, like the political parties.
Interestingly, all academic research that I was browsing through seems to support the logic that a direct comparative ad from a market follower is least likely to lead to higher awareness for the compared-to market leader (because the market leader is already well known), whereas a market-leading brand has the most to lose from a direct comparative ad (by creating "free" awareness for the compared-to smaller brand). This leads to the conclusion that while low-share brands ought to use direct comparative ads; market leaders perhaps ought to use non comparative or indirectly comparative ads (those that don't name competitors). … Hmmm…. that made me ponder and yawn… the academic researchers have missed it somewhere or the Horlicks guys haven’t heard of this logic… whatever is the case this new one in Indian advertising is amusing and if it goes on you will get to see everyone jumping into the fray and agencies encouraged to wash more dirty linen and open all cupboards and skeletons falling down…
Followers may (!) gain more from direct comparative ads in another way which the leader if he initiates the comparison war will find it later a curse of his own creation. The comparison ads may make the buyer put both the brands in the same "consideration set," by increasing the degree to which they are perceived as similar to each other. Comparative advertising in that case becomes more and much more effective than the regular ones where one just extol ones own virtues .The supposed distance between the leader and the follower which when is higher ,the leader stands to gain and when the distance lessens the advantage is lost and the follower stands closer to the leader.. Is Horlicks listening?
Studies, studies and more studies and yet the market remains as elusive as it was even before all these studies…The more the closer it becomes to the leader, naturally the higher should be the sales of the compared you thought? Not always .....says another study (!!)…. who is compared and with who is compared is another issue…? who attacks and who counter attacks is also important Forget all the studies ..one cannot seriously think that this war will cut deep into Horlicks share and leave Complan smiling…It would be, to put it simply, foolish to assume that comparative ads sway attitudes and preferences because, while people may indeed notice them more, they nonetheless may consider such ads as disgusting, less believable and less informative (especially if they happen to like the brand being shown in a negative light.)
Worse they may even attach with the accuser, all those worse things that one accuses of the other …when Horlicks says Complan is bad the consumer may think.. why is Horlicks saying this? Aren’t they equally bad as well?
Psychologists call it as Spontaneous Trait Transference …. But who cares ?
The war is on….
To Be Continued……>>>>>>>>>>