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Dare to Compare

Put your product to the test with comparison ads and earn top grades from your target audience.

How fast do your company's ads make their best argument for picking your product over others? If it's as quick as the marketers at PUR water filters do it, you, too, earn an A+ for your ad.

Making the point in a flash doesn't get any better than the ad shown here. On one side is a woman carrying a stack of plastic water bottles 12 feet high; on the other, a shot of the simple PUR way to supply yourself with the same amount of water. The headline captures the essence of that comparison: "There's more than one way to get 100 gallons of drinking water into your home."

The great thing about this ad is it's meant for the lazy reader in all of us. Comparison ads can be understood and appreciated without a lot of brain strain. Think of all the "us-versus-them" ads and commercials that "click" in an eyeblink: the clash of ketchup thicknesses, the strength test of wet paper towels, and duels between kitchen doohickeys.

The classic example in the world of comparison advertising was the brazen "Pepsi Challenge." It turned a nation's eyes on a side-by-side showdown between that soft drink and arch rival Coca-Cola. Pepsi blindfolded a set of test subjects and asked them to sip-and-compare without knowing which product they were drinking. Naturally, Pepsi came out on top.

Bottom line: Comparison advertising, staged smartly like that of PUR and Pepsi marketers, can be powerful because it attracts attention (arguably the greatest challenge of all), makes its point very quickly and appears to obviate the need to "shop around" for the best choice. All wise reasons to lay plans for your own company's us-versus-them ad effort.


Jerry Fisher is a freelance advertising copywriter and author of Creating Successful Small Business Advertising.

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This article was originally published in the January 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Dare to Compare.

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