Why some companies negatively advertise their own products
From Volkswagen to Nestea, many brands approach advertising with a little self-deprecating humour.
There is a rich history of negative advertising strategy. The Volkswagen advertising of the 1960s was firmly rooted in the negative.
The ads said the VW Beetle was ugly. They said it was slow and too small. They said it was uncomfortable in the backseat.
There was an honesty about the advertising. But more than that, it was endearing. No other car marketer had ever taken pot-shots at its own vehicle. But by doing that, Volkswagen became the most beloved car in history.
Avis celebrated the fact it was number two in the car rental business. Being number two was seen as a negative in marketing terms. Nobody ever boasted about being second-best. But Avis turned that negative into a positive by saying because they were number two, they tried harder than number one.
It was powerful marketing. That campaign made Avis profitable for the first time in a decade.
There is a funny commercial airing right now for Nestea here in Canada. It shows a shy teenager trying to work up the nerve to talk to a girl at school. So he drinks some Nestea for courage, only to realize that Nestea doesn't give you courage. It's just a drink:
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