Colgate vs. Pepsodent brand war – competitive advertisement trending again?

Let us first understand what a brand is:
The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a “name, term, sign, symbol, design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods or services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of competitors.
Pepsodent and Colgate – Market Positioning
While Pepsodent germi-check has a market share of 6.4%, Colgate strong teeth has a market share of 29.4%. The below discussion is of Pepsodent claiming in a television commercial that Pepsodent has 130% more germ attack power than Colgate. 
The interesting fact to be highlighted here is that Colgate strong teeth, the largest selling brand in the Colgate portfolio is not the one which claims of any germ killing attribute; rather it is Colgate Total which does so. But instead of attacking Colgate Total, Pepsodent chose to attack Colgate strong teethDelhi High court declined to restrict consumer goods manufacturer Hindustan Unilever Limited from advertising its toothpaste Pepsodent Germi-check, saying its commercial does not “defame” the product of its competitor Colgate.
What is the point of creating and maintaining or defending a brand?
Brand not only allows the consumers to assign responsibility for performance and satisfaction to the manufacturer or distributor or service provider but also helps decision making where they need to choose as to which brand is satisfying their needs. Now talking of the hot topic of “Brand Wars or Brand Destruction”, the following questions arise at the very sound of these two words- “Is it an ethical practice to destroy a brand?”, “Is it negative marketing?”, “Is it positioning your products in a way so as to harm other’s products or market share?”
Is Brand war right or wrong?
Well there are no absolutes like there are always two sides of a coin. The concept of brand war or brand destruction also needs to be analyzed in two aspects. As it happens in any game, there is a healthy spirit of competition and then there is this league of accomplishing it by whatever means you possibly can. The same analogy applies to the concept of brand war wherein the motive can be to destroy an established brand image by either providing better products or services in a competitive approach in which case you engage your energies and strengths in building better than what prevails or else take the shortcut approachThe shortcut approach which I choose to mention separately is the concept of defaming a brand. A very evident example of this concept which can be very well guessed upon is in the war between Pepsodent and Colgate as illustrated in the beginning.
Is the concept of competitive advertisement trending again?
Yes the trend can be seen even in the soft drinks segment. There are numerous companies which get into the practice of brand destruction in this negative way. In this global village, where you have access to the world information by few clicks, one can consider the ill effects of brand war a serious threat for any company- big or small.  
Any challenger brand benefits by launching direct comparative ads against a well-established market leader because of the shock value as well as the marketing war yielding brand eyeballs and media space. However the risk factor involved is of the market leader reacting with full might which might even destroy the challenger brand.
[The article has been written by Priyo Ranjan. He is presently pursuing his MBA from XISS, Ranchi]

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