Monthly Archives: January 2011

Comparing and Contrasting

(Yes, friends, I’ve decided that now is as good a time as any to resume blogging after a long, and perhaps unnecessary hiatus.)

So recently my wife’s cousin came to visit us from Ukraine.  Though she’s an accomplished world traveler, with more stamps on her passport than anyone I know, this was her first trip to the US. So far it seems she’s liking it (let’s be honest, life is easy here), but in a conversation over ridiculously large American portions, she raised an interesting point, one I’d never thought about before: You see, in Ukraine, the laws of advertising are much stricter than they are here in the States, and one thing that shocked her was how one company’s advertisements were allowed to mention a competitor.

In Ukraine comparison advertising is strictly forbidden.  According to a 2004 law (remember Ukraine is a fairly young country, only achieving real independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 90s), companies are not allowed to “Imitate or copy text, image, musical or sound effects, which are used in advertisements of other goods, if otherwise provided by Ukrainian intellectual property laws. (source)This also applies to trademarks, names, slogans, etc.

So what’s my point? My point is that this whole thing got me thinking about how different the advertising landscape would be if we had a law like this, and by proxy, how different cultures have different values when it comes to this sort of thing (genius insight, right?)

Comparison ads are old hat to us.  We’re used to Burger King comparing the Whopper to the Big Mac, or Chevy telling us how much better their trucks are than Ford or Toyota, Tylenol vs Advil, etc. In fact, some products have made their entire brand on this concept (“Choosy moms choose Jiff”, Taco Bell’s “Think outside the bun campaign”, etc). It’s actually a pretty common and effective means of getting your point across.

Can you imagine our world without these type of ads?

No comment from me on the ethics of this type of advertising or their accuracy, I just find it interesting to consider how Apple would be selling their computers without highlighting their advantages over PCs. Just something to tickle your imagination…