From the Blog

Advertising is a tricky thing. An ad campaign may work great for one business, while a similar campaign completely fails for another. Most advertising struggles to get you, the consumer, to understand why you need to choose this business or service over their competition. They try to sell you on why they are the BEST.

However, some businesses take an entirely different route. Instead of touting their own horn, they give you reason not to buy into their product or service, typically with a comical twist. These businesses purposely launch negative ad campaigns toward themselves, not the competition. This is not a common strategy.

I noticed this, most recently, while I was watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance. A commercial for Glee-The 3D Concert Movie came on. The cynical Sue Sylvester ended the commercial by telling us not to waste our money because this movie sucks.

I laughed out loud! It very well may. A movie of a concert is just not something I’m going to pay movie theater prices to watch and I could care less that it is in 3-D. However, to their credit, I haven’t forgot the commercial. I chuckle every time I think about it.

I have seen this strategy, on occasion, used by both small and big businesses.

worst food

Instead of claiming the best food in town…


At least they are telling the truth.


Moustache included

2010-2011 052

Cigar shop lowers expectations.

So…Does it work? Simply judging from my own experience, I have listed reasons to support both sides of the argument. If you are thinking about launching a negative ad campaign, it will be important to weigh the pros and cons.

Why Negative Advertising Works

  • Rare – These ad campaigns stick out from the rest because this approach is rarely used.
  • Curious – I want to know if what you say is true. So, I may buy in just because curiosity gets the best of me.
  • Expecting – I don’t have high expectations. So when those expectations are met with a great product or service, I feel like I won.
  • Memorable – I remember the businesses that purposely knock their own product or service, especially if it made me laugh.

Why Negative Advertising Doesn’t Work

  • True- The advertising was supposed to be funny. Instead, it’s true. Amusingly, when I googled Glee 3D Movie Commercial Sue Sylvester, many of the reviews agreed with Sue’s statement.
  • Questioning – If a restaurant says they are the worst restaurant in the world, I hope they are joking. But are they? I may avoid the restaurant simply because it made me question them.
  • Negative – Sometimes ads are meant to be funny, instead they are just wrong. The ad goes too far. Ironically, a negative campaign can be too negative.
  • Believable – The worst reason negative advertising doesn’t work-I believe you. When you say you suck, the consumer believes that you suck and may not give you the opportunity to prove yourself.

Unlike Orange Leaf, Glee has yet to make me a paying customer. In this case, their negative advertising is memorable, but I have not bought in. What do you think? Does negative advertising work?

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