Practitioner Views of Comparative Advertising: How Practices Have Changed in Two Decades

Fred K. Beard

University of Oklahoma

Management slant

  • The study reported in this article sought the views of advertising agency creative executives regarding the effectiveness of comparative advertising and how those views may have changed during the past 25 years.
  • Survey respondents believe comparative advertising that explicitly identifies competitors remains a message tactic with significant potential for success but also carries the potential for several unintended and potentially negative consequences.
  • Today's creative executives appear to be more concerned than their predecessors that comparative advertising may conflict with positive branding, even though they also believe it is effective for achieving some advertising objectives.
  • Findings confirmed that respondents believe the effective execution of a comparative advertisement critically depends on its tone, and excessive negativity could be an important reason why such advertisements may conflict with positive branding.