Need Ideas For New Ads? Consider Trolling Competitors

Half the reason I watch the Super Bowl is the commercials. They’re super expensive ($5.25 million for a 30-second spot in 2019) so you see some really awesome ads. This year Bud Light went all out with several commercials. One was a co-branded commercial with Game of Thrones where the Bud Knight is defeated in a joust by The Mountain.

They also ran a commercial where the Bud Light king seeks to return a shipment of corn syrup that was erroneously delivered to his castle. This takes them to the Miller Lite and Coors Lite castles so everyone knows these brands are brewed with corn syrup while Bud Light is not.

This set off a little controversy and Bud Light made its point about their ingredients being “better”. However, Miller Lite fired back a few weeks later with this ad:

This ad picks up at the conclusion of the first Bud Light commercial above and shows the Bud Knight drinking Miller Lite in the casting tent after the shoot. Trolling at its finest.

When To Use Trolling

Trolling is not for every advertiser. You’re directly calling out a competitor in a very public space, so here are some questions you need to ask yourself before taking that shot:

  • Does the tone of your trolling fit your brand? Bud Light and Miller Lite are and have been direct competitors for a long time. They often use humor in their marketing and advertising so this wasn’t out of character.
  • Can you take it as well as you dish it? Bud Light took the first shot with their corn syrup commercial and Miller Lite responded with the Aftermath commercial. Both companies took it on the chin and didn’t get offended.
  • Will your trolling end up in a legal fight? If you’re calling out a competitor you’d better make sure you don’t break any laws or use any false information or you’ll get sued. And nobody wants to line their lawyers’ pockets.

If you can comfortably answer the above questions as Yes, Yes, No then you are ready to try trolling in your advertising strategy. But how do you go about it?

Let me suggest a new tool for your trolling efforts – the Facebook Ads Library.

Find Your Competitors Ads Almost Immediately

If you go to the Facebook Ads Library you can search for any advertiser that advertises on topics that are “related to politics or issues of importance”. If that seems vague, you’d be correct.

The advertisers listed in the report include all your usual presidential candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden or Donald Trump and political entities like MoveOn, ConcealedOnline, ets. But it also includes advertisers like ExxonMobil, Solar Energy Today, Walmart, Poland Spring Natural Spring Water, etc.

My prediction is that more and more things will get lumped in the “issues of importance” bucket as time goes on (and in direct proportion to the heat Facebook takes on privacy issues).

This tool will show you ads that started running as recently as yesterday, so your trolling can be fresh. It also shows you demographic breakdowns on age, gender and geography for who saw those ads. So you know who will “get” your trolling.

Consider this ad from Poland Spring Natural Spring Water:

They’re obviously trying really hard to let you know how much they respect Maine’s water. They’re spending thousands on this. If you’re a marketer at a company like Dasani, Fiji or Smart Water how could you use this information? It’s a treasure trove.

In short, trolling can be fun and get your creativity going, but only if you’re ready for it.

Have you tried any tactics like this? We’d love to hear your takeaways and tips in the comments below!