Engaging with the Enemy

Last Tuesday on April 22nd, Earth Day was celebrated around the globe – bringing the issues of sustainability and environmental awareness to the forefront.  Many brands participated by taking the opportunity to spread awareness and to share with the public green practices at their companies.

One brand in particular made a quite a commotion that day with their print ad.  Apple released this ad in the UK Metro which many are calling an obvious dig at Samsung.


This ad is timely – as Apple is in the midst of a lawsuit with Samsung over mobile patent claims.  The war between Apple and Samsung has been an ongoing one with both companies making claims against each other in courtrooms and in the media.

While the ad made quite a splash around the globe (not just in the UK where it was released), I question Apple’s approach.  In the ad, Apple touches on the company’s sustainable strategy, the fact that their products are made without harmful toxins, as well as reiterating their intention to power all their data centers with 100% renewable energy sources in the near future.  Aside from the ad, Apple’s website was also updated with a new “Apple and the Environment” section which details the company’s other green initiatives both within their operation and available to customers.

What’s most important here is what they have done, how they’ve helped and what they intend to do – that is what industry leadership is about.  By making a dig at their competition, Apple is diluting the great achievements they’ve made and turning it into a publicity /media stunt to generate more mentions and views.  What I would’ve like to see from Apple is true leadership and rising above attacking their competitors even as competitors (Samsung) are throwing punches.  Hopefully, Apple can get back on track with their marketing message to become more proactive than reactive.

This begs the question – when is it appropriate to have reactive advertising? At what point do you engage with your competition and how do you do it while maintaining class and humility?

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