Twenty years of comparative advertising in the United States

Thomas E. Barry


US advertisers have been using explicit comparative advertising for two decades. There is less use of the comparative format in countries outside of the US, including EC countries. As we move into the 21st century and as superpowers such as the EC implement new directives such as those on comparative advertising, we may see an increased use of such advertising worldwide. There is lack of agreement regarding the definition of comparative advertising and much debate surrounding the effectiveness of this format. This article proposes a comparative advertising taxonomy and reviews the evidence of comparative advertising effectiveness in the US over the last two decades. Recommendations for future research in, and practice of, comparative advertising are proposed.