VISA took the rather extreme tactic of making entire commercials for real life vacation resorts and such, then noting at the end that said location doesn't accept American Express, so be sure to bring your VISA card instead.
To which American Express responded with a series of commercials featuring a traveler going to various exotic locales and being told that they don't take VISA, to which he responded with an indignant shout of, "But this is where I want to be!"
Particularly odd given that American Express hardly works anywhere outside of North America while Visa does (though American Express have recently started a push in Europe and it now works in about 25% of stores).
American Express also recently took a potshot at Capital One. In the commercial, a business owner is hosting a dinner with his foreign clients. When he pays the bill with his "custom made" credit card with a comic book character on it, his clients all laugh at him and leave. It's implied that they probably don't do business with him anymore.
Another American Express commercial has a man trying to buy a plane ticket. Everything is going well until he pulls out his credit card...and it has a kitten on it. He is then led away by airport security, presumably to be cavity searched.
These ads just serve to promote American Express as the credit card of choice for heartless, oppressive automatons.
Also, if your clients are so petty that the picture on the card you use to pay for their lunch is enough reason to not want you, they're probably not all that great of business partners anyway. The "austere German" stereotype didn't help.
The famous Super Bowl 1984 commercial that heralded the first Macintosh, was meant to portray then-dominant IBM as Big Brother.
In the mid '90s, there was an ad with a shot zooming out to show two computers side by side: one with the Mac OS starting screen, the other with the Win95 startup screen. "Although watching them run side by side is not terribly special," cue the computer chassis beneath the Win95 screen being pulled away to reveal both monitors hooked to the Mac, "Watching them run from one computer is." promoting the model of Quadra with a PC's core on a daughterboard allowing a single machine to run both platforms at once.
The Switch campaign in the early 2000s, targeted at Windows PCs.
"I'm a Mac... and I'm a PC" is perhaps the most inflammatory and controversial. Why?
The PC character, played by geek comic John Hodgman, turns out to be, for many, The Woobie of the commercials and the more sympathetic character.
Similar in Germany where the PC is viewed as a "successful businessman" (suit and tie) and the Mac guy as perpetual student (casual wear) living on student loans.
In the UK, they're advertised with David Mitchell and Robert Webb, with Mitchell as the PC and Webb as the Mac. The tendency is for people to view them like the characters they play on Peep Show, with the PC coming across as a bit hopeless, but someone generally loveable who tries their best, while the Mac is viewed as a smug preening tosser.
The accuracy of the commercials: "Hotly debated" would be a massive understatement. They are often at odds with the British Advertising Standards Authority (where the laws about truth in advertising are much stricter than, say, the USA) and when they show the U.S. ads in Britain, they are usually modified to comply. One of the more egregious claims is that Macs are immune to crashing, something even actual Mac users know isn't wholly true (particularly, as with all computers, when there are hardware problems). And Mac trojans/rootkits (not viruses or worms) do exist, they're just very, very rare (only one or two in over five years that were even widely reported to exist).
Other Apple ads of note. One ad produced around the time of Windows 95's release noted in a humorous manner that the Mac had for years had a Trash feature similar to Windows' new Recycle Bin. They also ran newspaper ads that said, simply, C:\ONGRTLNS.W95. Then came the "Redmond, start your photocopiers" ads when OS X Tiger was released.
When Apple switched from Power PC processors to Intel x86, there were ads that asked, "What's an Intel processor doing in a Mac? Far more than it could do in a PC."
"Congratulations, it's a PC": Take an average looking person, have them set goals and a price limit, and send them shopping with the promise that if they find the computer they need, they'll buy it for them. Every time the Macs get panned on their high price.
T-Mobile has turned the signature "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" commercial against Apple's iPhone 4 with their recent T-Mobile My Touch 4G commercials. Only in place of John Hodgeman they have a normal guy for the iPhone 4, and a rather plastic-looking woman for the My Touch 4G.
Microsoft must actually love being a second banana to Apple in tablets—there's so much opportunity for payback. They recently ran an ad with a Surface and an iPad side by side, in which the voice of the iPhone's personal assistant, Siri, was used to disparage the former: "I don't update my apps like that", "I guess I can't multitask" and, finally "But I can play 'Chopsticks'"
Microsoft has also been going after Google online and off with "Don't get Scroogled", pointing to Google's privacy issues.
Motorola Xoom tablet commercials have an announcer saying "our tablets are less expensive than the iPad2, also there's one other difference" then part of Queen's Flash Gordon plays "our tablet runs" FLASH AAHHH AHHHH
Samsung responded to the release of the iPhone 5 with an ad for the Galaxy S-III headed "It doesn't take a genius".note In case you don't get the joke, the tech-savvy employees at Apple Stores are called "Geniuses."
Whoever designed the Windows Phone advertisement (which shows patrons at a wedding capturing the proceedings on iPhones and Galaxies) must've been fed up with the in-fighting between Apple and Samsung and wanted to expose their silly ideas for competing (including their ongoing lawsuits) as an advertising allegory that portrays such corporate warmongering as a physical brawl in which Apple and Samsung fanboys and fangirls make complete arses of themselves in front of a waiter and a waitress who are capturing the whole thing with their Nokia Lumias.
Food and Drink
Arby's has a spot with a guy sitting on a bench, eating a traditional burger, fries, and soft drink lunch. He's about to bite into it when grease squirts all over his shirt and hands. Just then, a bombshell woman walks up to him to the tune of Warrant's "Cherry Pie" and hands him her number. He tries to open it, and the grease on his hands smudges the number. He tries to get her to stop, but she just makes the "call me" gesture and drives off. The ad, specifically, is for the Arby's Roast Burger. Apparently, anyone who buys hamburgers from other places is too stupid/uncultured to think to get napkins. It's unclear whether this particular Take That is aimed at the competitors or the customers.
A recent Arby's commercial complain has them taking a dig at Subway. It began with someone outside of a Subway and then head to some kind of factory that's far away. To make a long story short — Arby claims that Subway's food isn't as "fresh" as their turkey sandwich.
The advertising for Billabong Ice-Creams Lime Spider flavour contained the slogan "A lime spider is better than a lame lion", a very mean "take that" aimed at Paddlepop ice-creams, whose mascot is a lion.
Commercials for Budweiser were quick to mock how long it took for NFL officials to review plays once video replays became commonplace: the Budweiser horses, who were shown playing football (don't ask how horses can play football) in other commercials, spends one standing around waiting as a zebra peers into an on-field replay system.
The Burger King commercials with Ronald McDonald, in a trench coat, ordering his food.
This goes all the way back to the 1970s-vintage commercial featuring a 4-year-old Sarah Michelle Gellar claiming that Burger King's burgers were bigger than McDonald's burgers, and that she never ate anywhere but Burger King. Which, given her slim figure when she grew up, was clearly a complete lie.
Another BK commercial from the '70s was a musical in which a man has "tried it here, tried it there, and tried it where they make 'em square", obviously referring to Wendy's.
They've also expanded their target range, with a set of commercials featuring Whopper, Jr. and Crispy Chicken going to Wendy's and Subway, and generally acting like assholes.
There's also the Whopper Virgins campaign, with Burger King giving taste tests to those who had never eaten a burger before, such as Thai Hmong tribesmen, Romanian farmers, and Greenland Inuit people. The test was to see if they would pick the Whopper over the Big Mac. Sure enough, they chose the Whopper.
A Burger King ad shows The King sneaking into McDonald's headquarters to steal the McMuffin blueprints, then escaping on a scooter. The narrator then admits that their McMuffinalike sandwich is "not original, but still good".
An ad at a bus stop in Australia had one where it give directions to the nearest Burger King (about 500m up the road), which happens to be "past the other mob". It has been removed.
One poster found in some Burger King establishments featured a picture of a Whopper on top of a box, unable to fit inside. The caption reads, "Silly Whopper. That's a Big Mac box."
Recently, Wendy's and Burger King have gotten into dueling commercials that make it clear that you, the customer, just can't win. You can either go to Burger King and get a burger that "starts with a frozen patty, cold as ice", or you can go to Wendy's for their real burger: "Real small, and real fried".
Long predating these commercials, Arby's used to run a series that portrayed a trench coated Ronald caught on amateur film or photography ordering at an Arby's, with the caption "everyone gets burger boredom."
Arby's ran a commercial in the mid-2000s featuring a man going to a Wendy's board meeting and proposing a line of healthy roast beef sandwiches, which promptly gets him laughed out of the room. The ad stopped running in 2008, when Arby's parent company Triarc purchased Wendy's. Ironically, Triarc ended up selling off Arby's just three years later.
Carl's Junior (Or Hardee's, depending on your area) once did a commercial that advertised their "large" five-dollar burgers, which, literally, was a line of take-out paper bags belonging to rival fast food chains dropping, while someone intoned, "(insert fast food place here) doesn't have it."
They've done another one, which was now a take that at Burger King.
The rivalry between Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co. is well known for anybody, but the place where this rivalry is most present is in their advertisements filled with Take That against the other company. Some of them are:
Many new Pepsi Max adverts showed a sliding scale of fun, starting from "Zero" going up to "Max", in reference to the new Coca-Cola Zero.
Speaking of Pepsi, there was also a series of commercials featuring a little girl who asks for a Pepsi, but ends up with Coca-Cola instead. And this drives her to get even, with the voice of Marlon Brando.
Ironically, a few years before that Busch had gone after Coors hard, pointing out that the Coors distributed in the Eastern US didn't use that fine Colorado Rocky Mountain spring water they bragged about since they were brewed in Virginia. Some were almost as quick and dirty as political campaign ads. Coors responded with ads where their president walked around with the Virginia mountains in the background and asserted that water was just as pure and didn't make a difference to the overall quality of their beer.
For many a year the market leader in Ireland for pizza delivery had been Four Star Pizza. Then Domino's moved in on the island with the slogan "The five star pizza."
The ads for Domino's subs are a huge Take That against Subway. The first series had employees from Submart secretly trying to get hold of Domino's subs. The current series has several employees looking at all the great ingredients on Domino's subs, while the guy behind the counter complains that all they have is lettuce. (Which isn't even close to true.)
A Jack in the Box commercial has Jack mocking Burger King's "Have it your way" slogan by mentioning the fact that you can't order breakfast after 11:00 A.M., unlike at his restaurant where you can order anything on the menu 24/7. He ends the commercial by standing in front of a Burger King and uttering these words, "And hey, if I'm saying something that's not true... *rips the sleeves off his suit* Do something about it."
This is but one in a long line of Jack in the Box commercials based around the Take That: Ones from the 70s featured Jack beating up Ronald [McDonald] statues and taunting Colonel Sanders outside of his gated mansion.
It keeps going, too. Krystal (kind of a Deep South version of White Castle) has a string of commercials featuring the famous mascots of other restaurants getting busted ordering from there. One has a drive-thru attendant ask a person in the back of a limo, "Back again your highness?" (It becomes obvious that it's the Burger King a few seconds later.) Another shows an unseen person with large red pigtails (and the famous blue dress of the Wendy's mascot) getting chastised when someone finds the boxes Krystals are sold in hidden in her desk.
Mike's Hard Lemonade has a series of spots taking shots at their competitors, with the innovations said competitors advertise being bought to the bosses by a well-meaning employee. Take Miller's Cold Activated (and for that matter Coor's Light's similar mechanic) can, which displays a logo when the beer is cold enough. The Mike's employees pointed out that you could do the same thing simply by picking up the can. Subverted in another ad, with the employee bringing in a sommelier, who described their product in beautiful, flowery terms. The bosses stand agape, then ask the employee if he wrote it down. He had just been doodling on his notepad.
Or how about all their commercials remarking in general about how unmanly every other drink in the market is, saying "in a world that's gone soft, someone has to be hard"? Let me reiterate: a company that sells spiked fruit punch is attempting to make a Take That against other alcoholic beverages by accusing them of being unmanly.
The link above also discusses the Miller/Bud dustup around the same time: Miller ran ads (in a U.S. presidential election year) mocking Bud's "King of Beers" slogan by saying, hey, in America, we have presidents, not kings, and calling Miller the "President of Beers". Not mentioned in the link: One of the ads showed the spokesperson "debating" one of the Budweiser Clydesdales, and that apparently was seen as over the line by the Busch family, so Bud hit back with no-more-Mr.-Nice-guy radio and TV spots mocking Miller for saying this when it was foreign-owned ... and, just coincidentally for a beer very popular in the African-American community, the foreign owner was based in ... South Africa! (So what if apartheid was long gone by this point?) That, in turn, became Hilarious in Hindsight when Busch was itself bought by a Belgian company, In Bev, four years later.
Pillsbury has been steadily bashing Kellogg's when it comes to their Toaster Strudels against Kellogg's Pop Tarts. In the ads, there are usually two kids, one has the Toaster Strudel and the other has a Pop Tart. The kid with the Pop Tart is disappointed as he/she sees the Pop Tarts is hard as a rock and snaps like a cracker while the other kid gets their Toaster Strudel from the toaster and happily enjoys it, showing how soft and warm it is compared to Pop Tarts.
One shows a kid keeps the Pop Tarts in his locker, rather than eat them.
Some commercials proclaim the inferiority of Pop Tart's strawberry flavor, as opposed to their other 26.
This ignores two major selling points for Pop Tarts — one, they're infinitely easier to prepare and carry with you (unless you forego the Toaster Strudel icing altogether) and two, Pop Tarts are prebaked before being packaged and shipped while Toaster Strudels are fried, so Pop Tarts are healthier.
Also, it's commonplace to pop the Pop Tart in the toaster oven, something that the kids in the commercial don't seem to even think about.
In a Pizza Hut advertisement promoting Back to the Future, two Hill Valley teens from 1989 travel to the year 2015 in the DeLorean and soon start craving for pizza. One of them suggests, "What about that place that delivers?" They approach a building with a sign on the window saying "We Deliver". The camera tilts up, and what is the name of the building they've come to? Domino's Hardware. This revelation causes them to wonder, "What happened to them?"
Pizza Hut ran ads asking people on the street to choose between their P'zone and a cold turkey sub. They choose the P'zone. Even though sandwich places can heat up any sandwiches or serve warm ones in the first place.
The Quizno's commercials about the people who eat at "Wrongway" are the latest in a long series of anti-Subway commercials.
Commercials have them applying a Take That to Subway's "Five-Dollar-Footlong" commercials, with people eating five dollar bills or rolls of coins. Then in the same commercial they mock the amount of meat in their sandwiches. One has to wonder, what exactly did Subway do to Quizno's?
Not so much so any more, since Quizno's has five-dollar value-subs as well (although they're mostly just advertising their $4 Toasty Torpedoes, which are also a foot long—though they're extremely skinny, which the commercials don't mention.) KFC snipes at the both of them by having someone ask how much the chips and the drink cost, as you can now get an entire box of food for 5 bucks at KFC.
Subway for a long time based a large bulk of its advertising on bashing McDonald's (and indeed, burger joints in general), so it's only right that someone hit them back. Heck, they still take shots at fast food. If you're to believe them, eating one meal at Burger King Stand-In will ruin your life.
There's at least one case where this backfired. One Quizno's potshot against Subway involved two men sitting on a bench, one with a Quizno's sub, and one with a sub that was clearly Subway's. The man with the Quizno's sub says "Untoastednote At the time the commercial in question aired, Subway did not offer toasted sandwiches.? What, were you raised by wolves?" Cue the second guynote Hey, it'sSheldon! having a flashback of himself, still adult and in a three-piece suit, nursing from a mother wolf with her pups. He then responds back in the present "Why yes. Yes, I was." Enough people were put off by this ad that it was taken off the air, then put back on with the nursing scene cut out.
In New England (unless it was in one of the gas station franchises) Subway has always offered toasted sandwiches. They only started offering toasted in their gas station franchises since 1990...
All this is Hilarious in Hindsight, of course, since Quizno's had to close about a thousand stores when the economy went south after 2008. It's hilarious because some of them have become ... Subways!
Relentless energy drink tastes pretty much identical to the more popular, well-established and expensive Red Bull, apart from having a bit more sugar in it. The big difference is that Relentless comes in 500ml cans and Red Bull comes in 250ml cans. Relentless' slogan, which is printed all over said cans, is "NO HALF MEASURES".
Sonic drive-up restaurants are showed ads blasting Wendy's for having Frostys made with "a vanilla mix that freezes," whereas Sonic has real ice cream! Except that their "real" ice cream, as shown in the commercial, is just soft-serve, which is ALSO shipped as a liquid mix that freezes. The idea that there's someone inside each Sonic lovingly churning out made-from-scratch ice cream is nonsense, so there's no reason for Sonic to be so smug about it.
Subway's ads in The New Tens are trying to be Take Thats against fast food, but look more like Take Thats against anyone who eats it, implying that even one fast food meal "comes with" long lasting life ruining side effects. There's a specific campaign in which people start breaking chairs, popping buttons off their shirt and so on the second they sink their teeth into a burger. (One of these ads ends with someone taking a bag into their car from the drive-thru, and the tires immediately blow out.)
In The Nineties Taco Bell once had a marketing campaign with Rocky and Bullwinkle characters. Boris Badenov sold "Boring McBoris Burgers", which were so dull the people of Frostbite Falls found watching grass grow to be entertaining(The grass later revealing to be Astro Turf). One ad in the campaign had Natasha note "What we want is what we get!", poking fun at a then-current McDonald's slogan. June Foray reprised her role of Rocky the Flying Squirrel and Natasha for the commercials.
British supermarkets got into a rather vicious commercial war, where each supermarket brought up just how many products it had cheaper than the others. Particularly bad with Asda and Tesco, where Asda started with 'Asda have this many products cheaper than Tesco', who then responded with 'Tesco have this many real baskets cheaper than Asda', and so on.
Indian advertisements are governed by very strict rules that don't allow direct Take Thats in an ad, so they resort to Bland-Name Product or a Brand X that is a Suspiciously Similar Substitute. For instance, a Pepsi ad taking a potshot at Coke will feature either a red paper cup with a white rim, or a crimson label with 'Cola Cola' in white. Alternatively, the competing brand is censored, or they will take a dig at the tag line or key feature of the competing brand. This has, however, been rather lax lately, in the milk powder war, with Complan taking a full-frontal dig at Horlicks.
When Crash started appearing on Nintendo consoles, Nintendo Power had a faux-interview with Crash in which this trope was lampshaded with Crash saying something to the effect that his antics in the commercial were "Nothing personal, it was all business related."
A print ad for the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons took a relatively tame jab at MMORPGs, while simultaneously poking fun at itself: "If you're going to sit in your basement pretending to be an elf, you should at least have some friends over to help."
A similar one said "At least this way you'll know the hot elf chick is a dude."
Interestingly, a recent banner ad for D&D Online (seen on this very wiki) takes a much more pointed jab at other free MMORPGs, specifically MapleStory. "Broccoli or the Beholder" indeed.
One web advertisement for the MMORPG Fiesta poked fun at the advertisements for Evony, which attempted to lure in clickers with a woman with oversized breasts in a revealing outfit, complete with bad grammar ('Play discreetly on your browser FREE' and so on). You may have seen these ads in this very wiki. In any case, the Fiesta banner said something to the effect of, "More than just breasts! Play Fiesta MMORPG - for free! My Lord".
The online card game "Alteil" also gets in on the fun, showing one of the card illustrations captioned with "She's actually in our game, my Lord."—the various breast women used to advertise Evony aren't in Evony at all.
Similarly, print ads for James Pond 2: Codename RoboCod, featured the title fish in what appeared to be an ice cream parlor talking up his new Do-Anything Robot abilities, and Sonic dashing out of frame because he couldn't compete.
The American commercial for Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has Marcus (the spokesperson for the PSP during its later years, in a spinoff from the Kevin Butler ads) saying about the game "This isn't some kiddie game that cousins play!" It's quite obvious he was making a stab at the DS, because a great majority of the DS's games are kid-friendly.
A certain infamous Rift trailer proclaimed: "We're not in Azeroth anymore!"
The Tiger Game.com launch ad is probably the harshest and most insulting of them all. It has a guy in a jumpsuit yelling to the audience about how the Game.com is so amazing, and that it "has more games than you idiots have brain cells!!!" And there were only 23 games released for the console. So, basically, Tiger was outright calling their customers idiots with less than 23 brain cells...
Print ads and commercials for Ty the Tasmanian Tiger shown the eponymous Ty dropping in on three hospitalized and highly bandaged characters who bear obvious resemblances to Sonic the Hedgehog, Crash Bandicoot, and Spyro the Dragon, all of whom have Ty's signature boomerangs embedded in them somewhere. They all flatline thereafter. All three characters are still more popular than Ty ever was, though.
Way back in the early 1980s, Mattel ran print and TV ads with George Plimpton comparing their cool-looking Intellivision sports games with Atari's primitive (even by the standards of the time) counterparts (a way of deflecting attention from the fact that most people wanted Atari 2600s so they could play Space Invaders or Asteroids, which were only available in home versions for that platform). Atari ran counter ads promoting exactly those games with a little blond boy in a suit and tie, whereupon Mattel shot back with an ad in which a similar kid starts off promoting Atari only for Plimpton to come in and set him straight. It all became Hilarious in Hindsight when Mattel started marketing ports of the same games for Atari as "M Network" once it discontinued Intellivision in 1983.
Actually, the M Network ads got in a final dig: "Games so good you won't believe you're playing an Atari." Yep, they blasted the very console their games were on. Imagine if ads for modern Sonic games on Nintendo consoles still took shots at Mario and Nintendo.
PS2 commercials from the 2002-2003 timeframe used the slogan "The only place to play".
Sega did this a lot during the 1990s: "Genesis does what Nintendon't" and all that. Let's also not forget how a burly black guy mocked us from our television sets about waiting for Nintendo to make a CD gaming system instead of going out and buying the Sega CD.
One of the best examples was this 1993 ad for the Game Gear, comparing playing the Game Boy to hillbillies watching bugs being zapped and eating pickled pork lips. Nice.
There was another one, seen in an article in the Italian edition of the Nintendo Official Magazine, discussing - you guessed it - the Console Wars themselves. It was a printed ad, showing a dog between the Game Gear and the Game Boy, with the sentence: "If you were colorblind and had an IQ of less than twelve, then you wouldn't care which portable you had. Of course, you wouldn't care if you drank from the toilet, either." Here's the TV version. Most notably, in retrospective, the writer of the article said "so basically, in other words, their message was, if you prefer the Game Boy over the Game Gear, then you're a dog. The world replied with a simple woof."
Sega was also on the receiving end of a Take That, courtesy of Turbo Technologies, Inc., who ran a series of multi-page advertising comics featuring a superhero called Johnny Turbo taking on the evil goons of faceless corporate monster FEKA. Of course, the comics were so ridiculous and filled with Ho Yay that many speculate that the real Take That was directed towards TTI employee John Brandstetter, who served as the model for Johnny Turbo.
Surprisingly enough, Nintendo did strike back at Sega with the Donkey Kong CountryTV ad, announcing it as the "first fully rendered video game EVER" which, obviously, was not to be found "on Sega", "on 32X adaptors" or "on CD-ROM".
Furthermore, one of the Donkey Kong Country games had a results screen that included a garbage can labeled "No Hopers". Some of the items lying around the bucket included Earthworm Jim's laser and, of course, Sonic the Hedgehog's shoes.
Nintendo Power also released a subscriber's-only special promotion video for Star Fox 64. In the video, a weaselly man in a Sony shirt and his incompetent sidekick in a Sega shirt try to coerce a Nintendo employee into releasing the secrets of the Rumble Pak.
This SNES Star Fox commercial featured a Take That against Sega's early 90s slogan, "Welcome to the Next Level".
Though Sega did some more take-thats of their own in 2001 — while Sony was having problems with not having enough PlayStation 2's on the shelves, during that year's E3 conference in Los Angeles, Sega drove a truck around the parking lot with a large message printed on the side: "Our condolences to Sony regarding their console shortage problems." This was accompanied by an even bigger picture of a young boy sticking his tongue out.
And speaking of Sony's problems, Microsoft's Xbox 360 campaigning during PS3's launch was pure Take That glory. Highlights were crashing Sony's live broadcast launch party held on a ship by parking another ship in the background with a large Xbox 360 poster on the side, and Microsoft employees offering chairs for people queueing up for game stores on launch day, each chair decorated with an advert for a website where you could read Microsoft's sympathies for people having to wait in rain when they could have just played a 360 ages before.
It gets better. A PlayStation3 ad featuring Kevin Butler, VP of Everything hyping up the PS Move controller takes a few potshots at Microsoft's Kinect motion gaming tech, saying that the Move has buttons, and that's pretty important for shooters like SOCOM. In the runup to the Move launch, Sony put up a website called yaybuttons.com. They're not even bothering to be subtle against Kinect. Then a commercial aired on TV that had him saying "Dear Playstation: People think motion control is for little kids!"
Kevin Butler is the anti-subtle. It's why people either think his ads are awesome or annoying.
The ads for the upcoming Playstation 4 have been making numerous shots at the Xbox One, which had an unveiling that did not go over well.
There were a series of magazine ads for sports cards from Topps, Upper Deck, and Wizards of the Coast that took rather blatant shots at the trading card games for Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh!. Nintendo and Konami were not amused, with Konami breaking off ties with Upper Deck in response.
A Panasonic 3DO commercial from 1994 (?) depicted a Sega Genesis and SNES being dropped into a toybox, with the narration "If you're not playing with a Panasonic 3DO system, then what are you playing with?" The commercial then cuts to footage from various 3DO games, then it cuts back to the Genesis and SNES with the narration saying something along the lines of "Say goodbye to your old toys", and then it abruptly cuts to a static picture of the 3DO logo as we hear a gunshot.
Insert-city-here-jobshop.ca frequently has characters excuse their not using a job website by saying they went to one that was "monstrously complicated".
A recent ad for helpwantednewmexico.com criticizes a "monstrously monstrous" job website for being useless when looking for local employees.
A recent ad for ajcjobs.com actually works the metaphor to the point where people in their radio ads are having one-sided conversations with a monster that sounds [and apparently behaves] like Taz.
A series of Alltel commercials portraying Chad, the Alltel guy, as a cool dude, and the other four big wireless companies as D&D-playing geeks.
Which leads to some interesting implications now that Verizon has bought Alltel. "Chad joins the adventuring party!"
The original versions of the ads featured Chad trying to befriend the other cell phone companies' mascots, such as the Verizon guy and that weird orange stick figure from Cingular. The companies hated this; in response they did an ad of a mock court scene with the mascots' faces blurred, before switching to Chad vs. the employees.
With the acquisition of Alltel by Verizon, the campaign is put to an honorable end with the real Verizon guy meeting Chad in apparent accomplishment of what these two metaphors can do together. (The imitator characters were nowhere to be seen.)
An Indonesian cellular operator named "Axis" had this ad where a representative of Axis, XL, and IM3 are in court. The XL woman and IM3 (fat) man tried to say that their representatives are the best, but they failed. Then when Axis man tried, he succeeded.
Speaking of Net Zero, many of its commercials try to get you to switch by having you compare their per-monthly fees with whatever you're paying with your broadband connection, then saying that whatever it is, it's not going to be the "just $19.99 a month" (or what have you) that Net Zero is. Completely disregarding that if you're paying for broadband you're paying for the technology that will allow you to connect to the Internet via DSL or fiber optic cable, while Net Zero is a glorified dial-up internet service that could not be in any way even remotely as fast or reliable as DSL or fiber optic cable. They Fail Technology Forever, anyone?
Their commercials worked well when dial-up was the dominant service available, but trying to bash broadband because it's more expensive is like a horse salesman doing the same thing to cars; it's ballsy, but pretty stupid.
Verizon and AT&T spent a good portion of the second half of 2009 taking shots at each other. Verizon showed their greater 3G coverage area with the phrase "There's a map for that", a parody of the "app for that" phrase from the iPhone, of which AT&T was the only authorized carrier at the time. In response, AT&T sued them, then later dropped the suit. They rolled out a series of ads with Luke Wilson, citing their greater 3G speed and better overall coverage, as well as other features.
The Verizon Christmas ad placed the iPhone on the "Island of Misfit Toys" because of its limited 3G coverage. Their Valentine's Day ad worked along the same principle, as a parody of the jewelry commercials with the shadows. The guy gives his girl an AT&T phone (not specified as the iPhone this time) and she rejects it upon seeing the limited 3G coverage.
Although it's AT&T's network more than the iPhone itself that determines 3G coverage. While they don't blast the iPhone specifically, as of 2012 Verizon is again touting how much more 4G coverage it has than its competitors. Sprint's "why would you limit your iPhone?" ads (hyping their unlimited data plans) show that you can take iPhone-related shots at your competitors even when you all have the iPhone, even if the iPhone is the only brand directly mentioned in the ad other than your own.
Another Verizon commercial also pokes fun at Twilight of all things with the Edward Cullen Captain Ersatz dumping the Bella Swan stand in because her phone (clearly an AT&T phone) has poor 3G coverage and running off only to find a bunch of girls with Verizon phones...and then a werewolf hits on "Bella".
Virgin Mobile has released a series of ads featuring a very clear parody of the cheerful young woman from the T-Mobile commercials. She is mocked by the Virgin mascots and perpetually sports an unnatural smile.
Toiletries and related
Around 1990, Blistik ran print ads for its lip balm (lip salve to UK readers) that suggested you should use the smoother Blistik instead of a "Waxy Stick", which it suggested was as stiff and skin-unfriendly as a candle, down to showing one of them with a lit wick. Just coincidentally, the "Waxy Sticks" tube had graphics very similar to ChapStick, the leading lip balm.
"To all who use our competitors' products: Happy Father's Day." In a print ad for Durex condoms.
And Tampax got into it with print ads showing a cheerleader in mid-air flip with the caption "At a time like this, you don't want to be thinking about the fact that your tampon came from a little black box." Clearly, they didn't consider the fact that some women who wear tampons aren't athletes.
Back in the late 1960s, Meds, a competing tampon brand to Tampax that was on its last legs at the time, ran an ad promoting the benefits of their product being made of rayon and asking "Why are some tampons just chunks of cotton?"
A commercial for a Nivea hair product ends with an Average Guy with good hair saying that it doesn't need to do anything fancy. What makes this a Take That is the earlier cuts in the ad, including a stereotypical geek whining about how the Nivea product won't increase their mating potential, like AXE and LYNX advertise in a decidedly tongue-in-cheek fashion.
This 15-second early '90s TV ad for Playtex—"They're not your mother's tampons!"—doesn't have to identify what brand those are. It's especially, um, ballsy in that it's for Playtex Ultimates, which used cardboard applicators, just like Tampax always had.
TV and related
An ad for National Geographic's Border Wars had an obvious take that at A&E Network's Storage Wars. The ad begins with two men showing off in front of two storages with the narrator saying:
Storage.. That's not a war. The border, now that's a real war.
After a pay dispute got AMC kicked off of Dish Network, AMC's promos for shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad all now end in a voiceover reading some passive-aggressive onscreen text: "[Show] can be seen on cable or satellite. NOT Dish Network."
Lately, AMC has gone beyond passive aggressiveness and are into straight up mudslinging, airing minute-long commercials that claim that Dish subscribers are "suffering" and should be pitied, all because AMC is not on the Dish lineup. One wonders who they're trying to convince, since Dish subscribers aren't seeing the ads, and everyone else is probably tired of hearing about it during every ad break.
In the early days of Nicktoons, back when they were confined to a block on Sunday mornings, Nickelodeon ran promos that took aim at their main competition at the time, USA's Cartoon Express. One example included stock footage of a literal trainwreck.
In the New York area, the local PBS affiliate has been running outdoor ads in which half appears to a promo for an upcoming Reality Show on a fake network, with titles like Knitting Wars, Bad Bad Bagboys" or Married to a Mime'', and even creating fake Twitter accounts for the "stars" of those "shows". The other half of the ad says "the fact that you thought this show was real tells you all you need to know about the current reality of television."
Let's not forget Time Warner Cable's stab at Verizon's FiOS ads. A guy at home is greeted by a Verizon employee and makes lots of flashy special effects similar to Verizon's ads while the potential buyer keeps putting down the guy, explaining how cable is so much better. When the Verizon character tries to explain about fiber optics, the potential buyer shoots back by saying "I think I'm taking care of that department" and shows off his fiber based cereal.
Time Warner Cable has unleashed more ads bashing Verizon FiOS by proudly claiming they carry NY 1, which is a 24/7 news channel exclusive to New York residents, and that Verizon doesn't carry it. It is doubtful though that many people will quickly switch to cable just for that one channel. More recent ads show a group of people in a post office asking an employee to send all their Verizon equipment back to Verizon, and then talking amongst themselves on why Verizon sucks and how cable is so much better.
Verizon has been steadily bashing Time Warner, by having Verizon being represented by a young and handsome looking man who is installing FiOS for people while he runs into an older, slightly heavier, and unshaven man trying to get people to switch to cable or trying to convince the Verizon guy that he is doing just fine with cable, but is not.
After a long time, Time Warner has resumed bashing Verizon. This time, they bring back the guy that mocks Verizon's FiOS guy and have the guy's mother tag along in order to get him to tell the truth about stuff like cancellation fees.
The television station UPN created an anti-olympics chant for their promos aired during the 1998 Nagano Olympics. It was simply "No, No, Nagano!"
Many political ads are aired on TV to show how much of a bad guy or loser the opponent is. Pretty much falls under the same boat as cable VS satellite mud slinging.
Audi ran a commercial series in spring 09 about "Identity Theft". Specifically, people being unable to distinguish their car from dozens of identical mook cars, so to speak, compared to the "unmistakable" Audi. Which, by the way, would look like any other vehicle on the road if you were to pry off the logo.
They did it again with various people reciting what "they've been told" while looking at the "generic" cars. Two young executives were told that hollow status symbols (A pair of identical Mercedes) were the goal. A young boy was told to desire a red Italian sportscar. A soccer mom with a minivan was told beige and predictable fits her lifestyle. An older golfer was told that this was the way to retire (Lexus). A middle aged man with a red BMW and a trophy wife was told it captures his essence. Then they all look on in amazement as Audis whiz by. The trophy wife actually leaves her husband on the spot.
Shortly after Lexus ran a series of ads for their "self-parking" system, Audi ran this ad with a driver displaying Improbable Parking Skills, with the tagline "The luxury car for people who can park themselves."
An Indian example: This ad for Bajaj Discover shows two children pretending to ride their bikes. It's a screaming shot at the Hero Honda Splendor, for long a massively successful commuter bike, shown inferior to the Discover on multiple counts. And without the branding.
Bentley's response to all the car wars, especially during a particularly nasty BMW/Audi/Subaru war: a nice middle finger.◊
"I hope they keep running the spot because they're doing a great job advertising that feature for us. Thirty-two percent of the 2009 F-150s we've sold have that tailgate step. We're doing really well with it, and we're really happy they're running that ad because it's proven to be a popular feature."
They didn't even spare the Toyota Tundra. This commercial is a neat Take That at Toyota Tundra's advertisements, which have a deep, manly voice-over. It takes one simple question from Howie Long to raise the pitch of that voice.
This commercial for the Hyundai Genesis luxury sedan is one giant Take That directed at Lexus and various German automakers. The ad aired during the Super Bowl, a month or so after the Genesis became the first Korean car to win the prestigious North American Car of the Year award. The ad is also a subtle Take That at Detroit as no American managers are shown at all, thereby implying Cadillac and Lincoln- the American luxury brands from GM and Ford, respectively- are not competitive with the Genesis. At the time, they really weren't (and arguably still so).
Maybe because it was the Super Bowl, an all-American event, and Hyundai didn't want to mock American car companies deliberately? Some other sites mention the casting of a German and Japanese brand as a WWII Axis stereotype.
When the Mahindra Scorpio was launched in India, it was positioned as an alternative to regular cars, stating its height as an advantage, so that the occupants don't have to bend down to enter the car. An early ad said that "cars will now suffer from low self esteem", mocking both the low-slung cars sold in India, as also India's most popular sedan, the Maruti Esteem- which also has a low roof.
One campaign of Mazda commercials had four men in white lab scientist jackets with the names of other car companies on the back contemplating to themselves why Mazda is so much better than them. One interjects that, perhaps, it's because of that "Zoom, zoom, zoom" thing.
One of the more infamous Take Thats in the car-ad field was run by New York-city area Pontiac dealers in 1990. To visuals of a Pontiac going down a road, a gruff male voice said: "Imagine. It's a few years from now, and you're taking the whole family down to see the big Christmas tree at Hirohito Center. Go ahead; keep buying Japanese cars." It was a clear reference to Mitsubishi Estate's recent purchase of Rockefeller Center. After a couple of weeks of opprobrium from Japanese American groups and other commentators, it was withdrawn.
In 2011, Subaru ran a fake ad campaign showcasing the "Mediocrity", a So Okay, It's Average sedan that was a shot at the mid-size sedan market in general.
VW once released three ads that mocked the Pimp My Ride stereotype, named Vee Dub, or alternatively "Unpimp ze auto". They feature Swedish actor Peter Stormare as a German Engineer, who 'unpimps' heavily customised cars- a Ford Focus, a Honda Civic and a Mitsubishi Eclipse- by obliterating them totally and replacing them with stock VW Golf cars. The commercials can be viewed here.
They showed a similar advert, but with a few changes. The execs' proposals have changed (makes sense, it's no longer Christmas), but also Mr. Zip-mouth no longer gets his mouth zipped, and in fact is the most vocal in supporting Mrs. Some Woman's explanation.
Aspen and Vail have a longtime, generally friendly rivalry as the Coke and Pepsi of Colorado ski resorts. Usually their ads don't take digs at each other, but sometimes they do. In the early 1980s, in response to one Vail campaign under the slogan "There's No Comparison," which might or might not have been meant as a shot down to the Roaring Fork Valley, Aspen responded with "There's Only One", a clearer jab at Vail.
Blockbuster is getting in on the "Netflix bashing" trend by bragging about how you can use their online rentals to get movies 30 days before Netflix and Redbox.
Also how you can return your rentals to one of there stores and pick up another, this is during the time they were closing hundreds of stores by the way.
Gibson's old slogan, once upon a time, was "Only the Best." Epiphone responded with the slogan, "When the Best isn't enough." It could be complete coincidence that Gibson now owns Epi and has them making their low-end guitars, but this troper finds that doubtful.
On a similar tack, there was a recent Esurance commercial narrated by John Krasinski that stated that Esurance didn't need a mascot to sell insurance. Definitely a Take That to rivals Geico (the gecko), Progressive (Flo), and Aflac (the duck); but also one for themselves — up until a few years ago, they had a popular mascot of their own named Erin Esurance that they're hoping you'll forget.
A TV spot for "The Jungle," a local children's playplace, asked a rhetorical question: "Where would you rather play? At home, or at the Jungle?" The "at home" scene depicted a monochrome shot of a couple kids playing on a Nintendo 64, looking bored, with the caption "Bo-o-ring!" in the upper left corner.
There has been quite a few "public service announcement" that take jabs at iPods, Video Games, computers, and T.V in general, showing the kids using said brands are bored and dull, but then step outside with colorful cartoon characters and famous athletes and look like they're having the time of their lives.
An advertisement for a "Love Checker" app for cell phones often changes the names of the two fake people, but they always have "3%" chance of success. One of the name pairs for that commercial? "Selena" and "Justin".
A recent Mr. Muscle commercial has the slogan of being "cheaper than a plumber". However, this seems to be an unbelievably dumb attempt, as a bottle of kitchen cleaner is bound to be cheaper than a guy who comes to your house and rearranges your piping (as if we didn't know).
No Nonsense once promoted their hosiery with the slogan "Great pantyhose are made, not hatched," a clear Take That to competitor L'eggs.
The British climate change group "10:10" has a very violent Take That directed against global warming skeptics. Viewer discretion advised.
Due to the general decline of the medium, newspaper ad wars in the U.S. are nowhere near this vicious anymore. Nevertheless, in the New York area, where three daily papers survive, there have been some in the past:
The New York Post once ran a radio ad promising prospective readers they'd be "ahead of the times and on top of the news", phrases not coincidentally incorporating the names of their two competitors.
In a mid-80s TV ad, one of the two tabloids (can't remember which) ran a TV ad in which voices singing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" were complemented by the words on screen and a bouncing football on whatever one they were singing. Only by the second line the voices were starting to lose their rhythm and go off-key, leaving the bouncing football unsure of where to go. The (ahem) kicker? The words were in the same Old English font that The New York Times uses for the name of the paper. It was a clear Take That to the Times' sports coverage, which up to that time was notoriously the weakest section of the paper (since then it's been greatly improved).
Newspaper wars in India are quite vicious, with brands calling out the competitors aggressively.
An ad for the recently-launched Pune edition of Times of India, which sold one million copies- "Thank you Pune. There's nothing left to EXPRESS"- attacking the long-running daily Indian Express. Not taking it lightly, Indian Express shot back with an ad depicting a bathroom roll of paper with the Times of India masthead, and that part torn, saying "Not everyone of the one million buy the Times of India to read it".
Lately, a very aggressive war between the Times of India and the Hindu has started, since the Times of India launched its Chennai edition. The Times of India ad showed Chennai as a very sleepy place, with sleepy people, including one with a copy of the Hindu in his pocket, in a "Wake Up Chennai" ad. The Hindu shot back with a whole lot of young people, college-goers and professionals, with poor general knowledge, who know everything about celebrities' personal lives- and read the Times of India. They even ran a print ad saying "Because Government malfunctions matter more than wardrobe malfunctions", still poking fun at TOI's tabloid style of reporting and editing. Funnily enough, that was a full-page front-page ad on the Times of India itself, but they still kept poking, congratulating the competitor for waking up to the competition.
A sign above an auto insurance company that read, "No lizards. No cavemen. Just great service."
One local gym chain near where this troper lives ran a radio ad bragging about its unpretentiousness. It ended with the narrator saying "So, if you think you're made of gold or from another planet, you may not like it here." Hmm ... who could they be thinking about?