FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! It's fun for brands to feud

80s reference time! Long before RuPaul sassed up our screens on Drag Race, Dame Joan Collins ruled primetime television as Dynasty's delicious mega-bitch Alexis.

Will your brand listen to the angel or give in to the devil on your shoulder, asks Kev O'Sullivan
Will your brand listen to the angel or give in to the devil on your shoulder, asks Kev O'Sullivan

She gifted the world with shoulder pads, perms and the perfect put-downs especially pointed at one Krystle Carrington. 

Their on-screen feud throughout the decade created some of media's most enduring scenes yet.

And since that golden era of goading, our media moguls, entertainment aficionadas and, well, me have desperately hunted out digs and drama among high-profile figures. 

But why are so few brands privy to the perfect put-down?

I mean, yes, Team Sussex and Team Cambridge are technically brands, but their supposed royal rivalries are grounded in mere gossip rather than proactive finger-pointing and snide remarks.

And, come on, the fab four must get on? Surely? Please, God.

Even Pepsi and Coke’s competition has turned from tangy taste tests to highly strategic pricing strategies – which I think the grown-ups simply call good business. 

And yes, since the now iconic McWhopper win, Burger King has artfully Alexis-ed McDonald’s on- and offline, leaving feud-fans' mouths watering. 

But it's just so polite. Friendly even. Pah!

Of course, there are exceptions: one of the most thrilling throwdowns has been between, er, Clif Bars and Kind Bars. 

The pair are at war for our pocket money. 

In March, Clif issued an actual open letter to Kind suggesting it go organic ASAP, just as Clif has, for the sake of the planet. The letter ran as an ad in the New York Times. 

Kind then placed an ad claiming that Clif is mostly made up of a gross syrup.

The brands' social-media managers have, of course, been at it too, with publicity-generating smears of the sweetest variety. 

Whether it's mutual corporate virtue-signalling or a savvy sales drive, I'm here or it; mostly because of the sheer passion.

Revelling in equally delightful tactics is Amazon Prime vs Netflix. A simple meme on Twitter this week pointed out how many more seasons of South Park the former had over the latter. Burn!

Now the reasons these jabs are kept relatively light are both obvious and honourable, but also too obedient. 

There are PR and social teams around the world with an angel on their shoulder saying mitigate risk, minimise negativity, be good, while that Alexis in sequinned devil horns says be more Burger King, be more KFC.

As brands often represent multiple, if not millions, of human faces, it's easier to appease the angel: any sense of a serious spat could divide both support and profits.

However, there is an issue with taking an angelic approach, which is that enemies are as defining for brands as they are for real people.

You are as tightly associated with your friends as your foes – and if a brand doesn't stand up against those foes, does it really stand for anything?

So, brands of the world, perhaps take a leaf out of Coleen Rooney’s book (figuratively, not her actual autobiography).

Having served rival WAG brand Rebekah Vardy the ultimate media missile, Rooney's star is soaring – and for once, it's not just gross syrup.

Kev O’Sullivan is executive creative director FleishmanHillard Fishburn

Thumbnail credit: Max Mumby/Indigo/Joe Maher/WireImage/Getty Images

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