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Using Advertising for a Competitive Advantage in Business

by Ron Kurtus (updated 28 May 2023)

One method to gain an advantage in a business competition is through strategic use of advertising.

Good marketing and advertising makes people aware of what products or services a business has to offer. It is used to bring in potential customers. Special advertising strategies can be used to gain the upper hand.

You can win sales by doing a better job at advertising than your opponents, by attacking them in your ads, or even preventing them from advertising. But also, the competition may be doing the same thing, so a defensive plan must also be in place.

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Having better ads

The most common way for a company to beat the competition in reaching the public and gaining their attention is through doing a better job in advertising. This includes using clever ads, focusing on specific markets, and purchasing more advertising space than the opponents.

Your performance in advertising is what gives you the advantage. Although clever advertising can catch the eye of the public, the product still must be good in order to keep the customers.

Case study: Beer ads

Advertisement by beer companies have sometimes improved their competitive edge.

Hamm's beer

In the 1960s, Hamm's Beer came out with a cute television commercial, featuring cartoon bears. No one had really heard of Hamm's, but their sales shot up as a result of this commercial. As soon as people became tired of the commercial, customers also drifted away from drinking Hamm's Beer.

Miller Lite beer

In the 1990s, Miller Lite beer had a series of clever commercials with sports figures arguing, "Great taste!" "Less filling!" Miller Lite became the top selling lite beer while those commercials were popular.

Budweiser beer

Budweiser beer has been known for a series of endearing television commercials. It is one reason they are the number one beer in the United States.

Attacking opponent in ads

Some companies have used comparison ads to show their product is superior as compared to the competition. They will show comparisons and state statistics. This is using advertising for an advantage in a head-to-head competition.

The problem with this strategy to beat the opponent in advertising is that it gives the opponent free exposure and name recognition. But it can still create a negative perception of the product among the public.

Case study: Political ads

Attack ads are often used in political campaigns.

Bush versus Kerry 2004 presidential campaign

In the presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry, a group of Bush supporters attacked Kerry on his claim of being a hero during the Viet Nam war. This "Swift Boat" campaign resulted in doubts about Kerry's honesty among the voters. It was a factor in his defeat.

Preventing opponent from advertising

In most situations, it is difficult to prevent competitors from advertising effectively. But there are examples of such a strategy being used effectively:


Companies can use advertising advertising strategies to gain a competitive advantage. The company can win by doing a better job at advertising than opponents, attacking them in the ads, or even preventing them from advertising.

A clever ad is sometimes better than a good product

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