It was just a few weeks ago that the United States was bombarded with “attack ads” against politicians and issues.
The goal is simple – disparage your competition so people will view you in a better light.
But there are times when the attack can be off-putting, and perhaps even backfire.
This past weekend, I made a run to my neighborhood Dunkin’ Donuts to get a supply of Munchkins for a party. Because what party can’t be improved with Munchkins?? NONE!
But then I saw the following shirt on-sale:
Let me say this: I love the marketing work Dunkin’ Donuts does. Their social media presence is stellar and their menu has been vastly upgraded recently.
This shirt, though, is a big, cheeky, snarky misfire to me.
While I do enjoy my DD time, I also enjoy Starbucks and Panera and Caribou Coffee. I see each of these as distinct companies and brands that have their own take on the “coffee shop/bakery” motif. I don’t want to choose because I engage with each of them differently based on location, menu, store design and dozens of other factors.
If I’m working remotely, you’re likely to find me at a Panera, which usually has free WiFi, plenty of power outlets, free drink refills and a menu that can keep me there from 10am-3pm. If I’m on the run and need a caffeine jolt, I know Starbucks will have something fun, along with some snacks for the car, plus some WiFi so I can check in with the world. When I need some quiet space, I’m often at Caribou Coffee, which tends to have a more mellow atmosphere than the others, along with some amazingly creative non-coffee beverages. [Alas, in a blog about coffee shops, I must admit that I only drink tea.]
DD has great on-the-run breakfast sandwiches…and those Munchkins I do love. Their service is fast and friendly. In and out. Unique food at a great price point. To me, that is their market positioning.
In a crowded segment, I’d rather see companies promote and develop their own attributes, constructing their own niche, instead of going negative. I understand each of them covets a larger market share, but you can win more business with great products, tremendous service, good value, accessible locations (parking, public transportation) and other factors.
The shirt’s recalling of the famous PSA trying to curb drunk driving was creative, but felt…icky…as well.
True, some loyal customers want a war. But that war is best fought with your business plan, not negative messaging.