Competitive or comparative advertising is a common technique used by companies to differentiate from competitors. Some competitive ads mention other companies specifically by name, while others refer to "other leading brands" or "brand X" when referring to the competition. This approach does offer a way to directly state how your brand is better, but you run legal risks if you make false claims and are sued by the named brand.

Coke Vs. Pepsi

One of the most heated rivalries in advertising is between Coca-Cola and Pepsi. These two giants in the soft drink industry have been engaged in back and forth competitive ad shots since the Pepsi Challenge launched in 1975. This long-running campaign features regular people taking part in taste tests on film and indicating a preference for Pepsi over Coke. Both brands have invested heavily over time to project images distinct from each other. Pepsi has often pushed itself as the more hip, trendy brand, while Coke has often emphasized its history and played on customer nostalgia.

Samsung Jabs Apple

Samsung was one of several targets of Apple in a run of patent infringement lawsuits related to its iPad release. Following Apple's failed patent lawsuit injunction against the Samsung galaxy tab in Australia, Samsung created an ad campaign directly targeting Apple. It coyly marketed its tablet computer with the tagline, "The tablet Apple tried to stop." This not only serves as an example of competitive advertising, it shows a company taking advantage of a false step by a leading competitor.

Fast Food Sandwiches

The fast food sandwich industry is ripe with competitive ads. Burger King and McDonald's have engaged in numerous mutual comparison ads. Burger King typically promotes its better quality, flame-broiled sandwiches, while McDonald's often plugs its efficiency, value menu and kid-friendly play areas. Burger King pressured McDonald's to pull a TV ad in Germany that BK felt degraded its brand. Subway has also done competitive advertising by pointing out the health benefits and freshness of its sandwiches relative to fast food hamburgers.

Crest Vs. Colgate

The Crest vs. Colgate battle is a major rivalry in the toothpaste industry. Proctor & Gamble owns the Crest brand and Colgate is self-branded toothpaste. These brands are consistently pitted against each other in ads for toothpaste, white strips and other home-based dental care products. In September 2012, P&G filed an unfair advertising claim with the Better Business Bureau’s National Advertising Division alleging that Colgate falsely advertised that its white strips had the same whitening ingredients and capabilities as the Crest 3D White Whitestrips.