The Bell and Rogers Couch Feud

Posted:  August 4th, 2009 by:  admin comments:  0

In an age of shameless attack advertising like “I’m a MAC. And, I’m a PC.” I’m left wondering if this is really a new age at all.

As a child I remember laundry detergent commercials that never went so far as to name their competitors but represented them with eerily familiar boxes just about anyone could identify.

rogersRecently, Bell and Rogers went head-to-head in a couch campaign that had me looking at each ad to decipher whose ad was whose.

This undoubtedly caused confusion. I began wondering – Wait a second, wasn’t that a Bell ad? I had asked myself a few times as I was passed by a bus with the Rogers version plastered on its side.

I don’t know if it is good or bad marketing that these ads confuse me. They have earned my attention. They have got me talking. But I don’t think either attracted my allegiance. And, in fact, I may be mistaking one company’s message for another.


On the other hand, one brand cannot simply ignore a direct attack. History teaches us, especially in the Bell-Rogers feud, that politely sitting it out looks weak. That said, getting into a catty squabble may come across as weak too.

Before you wade into all out war with your competition, make sure your approach is sophisticated and carries merit. Make your audience think. Give them a message of value. Don’t just come out swinging for the sake of it.

Perhaps the real winner is startup Telehop. They have waded into the fray with ads that feature an entirely new couch putting a hole in the world of the giants. Suddenly the two big contenders are not alone and they’ve given a platform for smaller companies to stand on in preaching this message. While the giants battle it out, Telehop is offering better pricing and a customer-centric experience with its very own orange couch insert.


Here are the lessons I believe we can learn from this:

  1. Think long and hard before launching an attack campaign. It may not work out as you expect.
  2. If your company is attacked, you must reply. Just avoid cheap tactics.
  3. If you’re a small company with far less buying power than your competitors, leverage their campaigns to put your company on the map.

In this particular case, I think Bell looks strong (for the first time in a long time against Rogers) for coming out so quickly with a tactful reply. Telehop has put itself on the radar with an ideal start-up message – that the giants have forgotten about the customer. Rogers, on the other hand, came out swinging and may have lost the spotlight earlier than it expected – likely not what Rogers intended to achieve with this gutsy campaign.


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