Battle Of The Brands
The greatest rivalries make the greatest tales… which makes them interesting enough to stop and look at those portraits of brilliance, skullduggery, creativity, victory, and failures. Phenomenal business battles have changed the world indeed, and directly affected the global economy.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ended up selling a few competing products for almost 35 years to impose radically different visions of computing.

Relentless competition is one of the core principles of the market, and for some companies, it takes the form of intense rivalry. From the long battle between Pepsi and Coca Cola, McDonald’s and Burger King, Apple and Samsung, Ford and GM motors, and many more, you will be amazed to see how far  some of these brands would go , how creativity is being utilized, and in general, numerous stories and lessons we can all learn from.

What is Brand Competition?

Brand competition can be defined as the rivalry between two companies offering the same line of products or services, to the same target audience and the same market, aiming to capture a bigger market share, increase the revenue and growth in comparison to the other “rival” brand.

All industries in the market -being in a red ocean- face competition on a daily basis whether from the established, current brands or from newcomers in the market.

The market dynamics in Red Oceans change rapidly due to the ever-growing number of brands and industries, so companies aren’t just surviving, companies need to thrive as well knowing by heart the strengths and weakness of the brands they are facing in the market, and set up the marketing strategy, branding strategy and make sure all that feeds into the overall business strategy in order to gain the competitive edge and create the brand loyalty factor.

How do successful companies play along in Brand Competition?

  • Have a thorough Market research:

Brand Competition is a consistent threat that businesses have to deal with. And as the saying goes; “ Knowledge is power”; in order to be a good player you need to KNOW your market and your customers, while keeping a keen eye on the latest government policies that affect the market, in addition to the evolving taste of the customers. And most importantly, your competition; the weaknesses, and strengths, types of their products and services, the attributes and features of their offerings, what they are unique for, etc..

  • Marketing:

Highlighting the brand’s values, the unique selling proposition, and how they are different form the others.

  • Increasing the number of new customers:

More number of customers means more market share.

  • Deliver what you promise

If the brand promises high quality products, or offering affordable prices, therefore, the brand’s selling proposition should always stay true to what is being promised.

  • Come up with a creative strategy for your marketing plan

Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in communicating with others, solving problems, or entertaining ourselves and others.

While Creative strategy is the intentional and strategic approach a company takes in developing and implementing steps that will support the business growth. Essentially it is the blueprint of how the end goals will ultimately be met.

As explained by one of the marketing researchers; There are Five Rock-Solid Creative Content Marketing Strategies. How you introduce your brand is one of the most important business decisions you will ever make, and even after a successful introduction, you need to continue presenting your image on an on-going basis. Developing a brand’s creative strategy requires an investment of time, energy, and a portion of your marketing budget.

  • Use Humor… but just don’t force it, let it come naturally.
  • Be Responsive… your customers want to hear from you
  • Re-invent the old.
  • Be the Expert… be an innovator in your area and talk about what you know
  • Write a Killer Headline… there is a lot of content distortion out there. And quite rarely do we find a distinguished headline attached to the content that captures people’s attention.

Communication is Key! You have to ensure that you remain focused on effective communication which can easily be lost in the midst of all the planning. The overall goal of any brand strategy is to communicate with the public effectively.

Combining all what I have mentioned above, Brands get busy in their marketing and ad campaigns out of which some are very memorable and even timeless. As a marketing enthusiast it is very interesting and educational for me to look into some of those witty and creative ad wars, how they unraveled, how they played along, and stood out, and how some of them managed to leave  bold and lasting messages. It is also important for us to learn about the behind-the-scene events, and marketing strategies which drove brands to be where they stand.

The Dark side of the moon

However, Powerful rivalries can be blinding, obscuring the events beyond the battlefield.

Coca Cola and Pepsi were so busy ripping each other out in the ad campaigns while missing out an entirely new notion. Today, inconceivably, the best-selling energy drink in the US convenience stores is NOT made by either company. (It’s Red Bull)!

Similarly, General Motors and Ford were so busy doing their thing obsessing over each other until one day Toyota came in and stole a bulk of their market share. (source: Fortune magazine, 2013)

Aside from the famous brand wars that we all grew up watching, and currently enjoying, featuring top brands like:  McDonald’s vs Burger king, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Microsoft vs. Apple, DC and Marvel comics, and many other very enjoyable ad wars, my personal favorite is the historic billboard war between the two German luxury cars giants BMW vs Audi.

The Historic BMW and Audi Billboard Ad War

The car industry is full of intriguing battles, BMW and Audi’s rivalry is one such example.

In 2013, the two leading German car manufacturers went head-to-head

in a billboard battle in Los Angeles. They both have been known for venting out disapproval against each other every now and then, But it’s all in good sportsmanship. Being rivals in technology and ads is not fresh news but their rivalry has escalated to a new, show-stopping level.

It all started in California when BMW put up a billboard promoting their 35th MOA rally with a chess reference.

Audi saw that and decided to react with a billboard for the new Audi A4 with the caption “Chess? No, I’d rather be driving.”

But that billboard soon was changed with the more challenging addition of “Your move, BMW”

35th MOA rally with a chess reference
Your move
BMW Chess

Sure enough, BMW did make a move, with a new billboard right across the street with the BMW M3, with a simple caption; “Check mate”. It was indeed a topic of conversation.

Rather than shying away from BMW’s move, Audi turned to Facebook asking its fans to respond to the LA billboard. The photoshopped responses were very interesting, eventually Audi responded with a new billboard that captions

Your pawn is no match for our king”

In return, BMW took matters into their own hands and rented a flying zeppelin with Formula 1 car and attached it to the same Audi’s billboard with a “Game over” written, signaling triumph.

BMW Baloon

Audi responded with a new billboard showing the incredible Audi R8 with the caption on the billboard that read “Time to check your luxury badge. It may have expired”


Several shots were made at each other on TV and Print: “BMW’s “what an Audi does well, A BMW does brilliantly”

In another episode of this war saga, BMW actually congratulated Audi for winning the South African car of the year, but it turns out to be a taunt when reading the punchline at the bottom. (as shown in the picture below)

“Congratulations to Audi for winning South African car of the year 2006. From the winner of the world car of the Year 2006”

Audi was quick to respond to that one releasing an ad with this caption: “Congratulations to BMW for winning World car of the year 2006…From the winner of Six consecutive Le Mans 24 Hour Races 2000-2006”

In a bold move, for the latest chapter of this ongoing battle, BMW has created a massive billboard that was erected along the Audi of Hong Kong dealership, The ad features the new 5-series with the caption “Who knew efficiency could be so beautiful”.

This war is far from over, where other players wanted to play along and get some of that spotlight. Out of nowhere Subaru came into the picture, and decided to dive in and took on both automotive giants congratulating both sarcastically. And a latest entery by Saleen, another rival car that almost stole the show, mocking all three brands. But the final message was from Bently who actually stole the show, featuring its chairman’s picture doing the notorious finger gesture.

Later on, BMW started messing with Mercedes…

Merceds carting BMW
Battle of the brands

Jaguar was BMW’s next victim…

But then turned back to Audi…

The Show Must Go On

In 2018, Audi and BMW got into a sparring session yet again over twitter. When what was supposed to be an innocent photo of the M4 in Yas Marina with flying sparks in the background, but what Audi’s Twitter manager saw was something quite different; He tweeted:

“ When you see it..”

Addressing the golden circles that looks like Audi’s logo.

Fans were on the edge of their seats in anticipation to how BMW will respond to that.

BMW twitter manager finally threw a gangster response:

“We see it, where we usually do…

in the rear-view mirror”

Victoriously dropping the mic.

And Round one goes to BMW…!

While some might say that BMW final attack/counterattack means victory, but the truth is that both brands have reaped the benefits of this war.

The main objective of an advertisement is to get as many eyes on the brand as possible, this war not only did that, but it has sparked an unprecedented wave of PR and social media attention which was very valuable to both brands, and to this day after several years, people still talk about it this epic feud.

Turns out that Brand Competition is a very healthy and a relevant factor in marketing. It is a driving force to be better, beat the others, challenge yourself, keep your customers intrigued and engaged and own your place in the market.

Lastly, you’ve got to give it to the wit and creativity of the people behind those ads.

BMW vs Audi Twitter


Competition between brands will always be there and will remain a threat to the business… The “Brand” has to keep focused on the customers’ needs, stay consistent, and maintain its character, keeping the brand’s promises to keep the customers happy and by that gaining the competitive advantage.

When it comes to brand wars between rivals, it’s amazing to see how years of experience, creativity, wit, and originality manifest in creative ad wars. In Pinnacle we embrace creativity, out of the box ideas, marketing strategies to best serve your organization in the way you want to drive it.

Pinnacle® is a multi-country consultancy firm. Our consultants are spread around the world coming from the tough developing markets where change is constant; we are diverse organization with 70% of our consultant’s women and many nationalities. We have built our organization on modern business model with agility, diversity, and resilience to the business dynamics. We have chosen our technology platform to support our modern mindset thus we work from anywhere …. As work is not a place anymore. We implement Lean Six Sigma in everything we do whether internally or externally at our client sites. 
This article is written by:
Ranim Ismail
Ranim Ismail
Business Development Manager | Egypt
Pinnacle Ltd.

Pinnacle Ltd. is a multi-countries modern consultancy firm, with offices around 11 countries in 4 continents, and 28 consultants working remotely and virtually managed.

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