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Trolling the competition

Not always a good choice

People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Or in other words, if you can’t stand others’ attacks, don’t attack first. Ryanair’s social media staff probably isn’t very familiar with this saying. A few days ago, a British Airways plane landed on Edinburgh, while its supposed destination was actually Dusseldorf in Germany, and Ryanair didn’t miss the chance to make fun of its competitor’s mistake. “Hey British Airways, we have a present for you” said its official Twitter account, together with the picture of the book “Geography for Dummies”. And while British Airways response was a quiet “no one is perfect”, a lot of people had much more creative answers.

Social Media Marketing for Dummies

“Maybe keep the book” tweeted one user, reminding that the same mistake was made by Ryanair in January, when a flight to Thessaloniki in Greece landed in Romania instead, leaving passengers with very little help. Others found it surprising that Ryanair would give something for free, “Hopefully BA can fit it in their carry on bag or it will cost extra” and “For free? Or are you going to charge them for that as well?” are just some of the best tweets. But I think the winner is, hands down, Mr JB, who wrote “And here’s one for you” along with the picture of the book “Customer Service for Dummies”.

Mercedes vs Jaguar

Yet, trolling your competitors doesn’t always lead to epic fails. Actually, it can be a very effective marketing strategy, if done well. This hilarious Mercedes and Jaguar commercial battle is one example. It begun when a Mercedes add used a dancing chicken, whose head stood perfectly still while the rest of the body moved at the rhythm of the music, as a metaphor of the car’s stability and its “Magic Body Control”. It didn’t take long for Jaguar to reply with a parody of the dancing chicken, who this time ends up being eaten by a Jaguar. And the battle continues, with the Jaguar becoming a harmless kitty in the next Mercedes add.

Mac vs PC

“Hello, I’m a Mac”, “and I’m a PC”, this was the opening line of these famous 2007 Apple commercials that make fun of Windows. The PC is represented by a not so smart, middle-aged man who gets sick, is very slow and does embarrassing things like wearing sunglasses and a hat to avoid spyware. While Mac is a young and smart man, who does easily everything PC has a problem with and doesn’t have to worry about getting sick. “Don’t worry PC, I don’t get viruses”.

So, is making fun of competition good or bad?

I’d say it depends. If done in a smart and creative way, it can be a very powerful marketing tool. If done poorly (like a joke on twitter) it can be very damaging to your image. I’d say it also depends on who you are as a company: if you’re a well established and strong brand, perhaps you can bear the risk of an offensive marketing strategy; if your reputation is already in trouble, maybe you should think twice before opening fire.

As Louis C.K. would probably say: of course I’m sorry that everyone is making fun of Ryanair on twitter, but maybe, if you already have issues with most of your customers and you make a joke on someone for making the same mistake you made months earlier, then you kind of deserve it.

Written by: Nicola Curci

Edited by: Priscilla Greggio

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