"If you can't find something nice to say, keep your mouth shut" is good advice, in my view, for brands (or the people running them) as in life.
I'm generally not keen on brand communication that's based on the "slag off the competition" strategy. There are a few rare cases where this is done well, but in the usual scheme of things, it ends up sounding like bitching. Or politics (if there is a difference).
Maybe that's no surprise these days. In the days of people "demanding" that brands have values, a purpose, stand for something and/or take a stand, and gushing and cooing all over the latest trendy issue-based film, maybe it's no wonder that some brands - who just want to sell their loo cleaner/razors/fast food - get a bit narked.
For example, if you're up against Starbucks
, you may well lose patience with all the politically-correct ballyhoo that could possibly take some of your higher-minded customers. So you might be tempted to put out a message that reinforces what you are all about, plain and simple, while also taking a swipe at all that political purpose conversation codswallop.
Which is what Dunkin Donuts
have done: the VP Brand Stewardship has put a message around social media - "it's donuts and ice cream - just be happy." As reported in the (conservative) magazine Human Events
Part of me kind of agrees with the sentiment, but the cynical part has a question.
In this day and age, maybe refusing to go political is a political stance in itself.
In a world where free speech is OK, so long as it's the right political hue, and where brands are encouraged to take a stand as long as it's for something in the liberal-left arena, maybe a brand like Dunkin Donuts
looks at its customer heartland and decides that the safest way to get those people on side is to take a swipe at the competitor, knowing that it's not the coffee that's up for criticism, it's the politics.
I prefer my brands strong and silent - doing what they do best, without taking potshots at others.