We’ve all been there before – a client comes to you with a new product or line extension that is going up against an established product with a very strong brand (and, worse, strong brand advertising). I am there now.
The CPG client that I am working on is launching a new product that competes directly against a product that is firmly established as the leader in the category, the brand is extremely strong and the advertising wins awards. This product is like the iPod of this CPG category (and has an agency as good as TBWA/Chiat/Day):
The reactive response when facing a product, brand and advertising as strong as the iPod’s is to go big. Beat them at their own game with arresting, breakthrough, DIFFERENT advertising that clearly sets you apart.
Sounds like a great idea.
Too often it ends up like 72andSunny‘s work for Zune:
The visuals are certainly different. And they’re compelling and breakthrough and all that (in a Tim Burton way). I even get the “sharing” point of difference of the Zune player.
But why be so different? Instead of sunny and bright and iconic, you’ve advertised yourself to be a brand that is dark and weird and not very enjoyable. Not exactly where you want to be for any product, and certainly not a music player.
On the project I am working on, we received a brief to strongly differentiate ourselves from the competition. But they stand for very strong, very positive values. I don’t think that we should abandon those to the competition.
There is lots of room within specific attributes. The question is, “what is our kind of (to keep with the analogy) sunny and bright and iconic that is different”, not necessarily (and not in this case) “what are the other, different, attributes that we can own.” The category is built on the delivery of certain attributes. How does your product do it differently/better?
That is the question.
At least on this project.