3 Examples Brands that Have Used Enemy Marketing to Go Viral
Updated: Dec 8, 2020
Looking for a strong approach to gain support for your brand? Consider enemy marketing as a way to build a stronger community that is inspired by your willpower to provide solutions to common problems.
Today, we’re going to talk about three brands that have found success in implementing enemy marketing strategies.
What is Enemy Marketing?
Enemy marketing is very straightforward. You use your brand to fight against a common and relevant enemy.
The enemy is a social issue or the problem that caused you to start your business. Your enemy could even be the downfall of your competitor or those who have gone before you.
The point of using enemy marketing is to rally the people. Let them see that you stand for something and give them a reason to stand behind you.
Followers and fans will become your customers. Attract people to your brand by battling the common enemy. Give them solutions to overcome the enemy.
3 Examples of Effective Enemy Marketing
In order to give you a better understanding of what enemy marketing looks like in action, I’m sharing three examples of brands from very different industries that have effectively used this marketing technique.
1. Bernie Sanders
Like many politicians, Bernie Sanders has used enemy marketing to propel his political campaigns. As a socialist, he stands for creating financial equality throughout the nation.
The enemy that he is fighting is capitalists. He uses propaganda against the rich to tap into the emotions of the poor and working class people. Even though he is pretty wealthy, he makes people feel like he is fighting the same battle that they are: their battle.
By demonizing the enemy (capitalists, Donald Trump, etc.) he is able to build influence among the people with similar concerns. His radical ideas have been his driving force throughout all of his political campaigns.
Since he is a politician, his success would likely be assumed to align with whether he wins the 2020 presidential election or not. However, in this scenario, we can take a look at the millions of Bernie Sanders supporters.
So many Bernie fans are not only pledging their vote, but they donate their valuable time to help him on his campaign. They are willing to work for no pay to support a man who does not know they exist. This goes to show how his enemy marketing strategy has helped him to successfully build influence.
2. Popeyes Chicken
In August 2019, Popeyes Chicken had a chicken sandwich that brought masses and masses of customers to their restaurants because of a few viral Tweets and an overnight trend.
Chick-fil-a boasted their breaded chicken sandwich as “the Original Chicken Sandwich.” Popeyes disagreed and basically told them to move over.
People sided with either Chick-fil-a or Popeyes and the topic began to trend on social media. Popeyes continued to use their social media platforms to instigate the online debate and people wanted to try the sandwich for themselves. They sold out of the new chicken sandwich across the country.
This situation got so crazy that the sandwich became available for resale on eBay for $200+.
Chick-fil-a’s sandwich was the enemy in this situation. Although there was no detrimental propaganda, the two fast food restaurants took advantage of the free marketing by engaging in this fun battle.
Police brutality is a major social issue in the United States, especially in predominantly black communities.
A few years back, Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player, took a stand by taking a knee during the national anthem at football games.
Although Nike is a brand that has long been criticized for their unethical production processes (such as using sweatshops in Asia to produce their clothing), they hopped on the opportunity to have Kaepernick as part of a marketing campaign. They used his face with the line “Believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.”
They portrayed him as a martyr for the black community since he took the wrath of standing up for people who have long been unheard.
People went absolutely wild. Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters praised Nike and continued to support the brand. Conservative Americans were outraged by Kaepernick’s “disrespect” to the nation and boycotted Nike. They made a spectacle of burning their Nike products, which generated even more exposure for Nike.
At this time, Nike’s stock prices rose by 10%. The enemy here was police brutality. Nike made it their battle to fight along Kaepernick and other athletes that supported the BLM movement.
Despite the hate they received, Nike came out on top.
Applying Enemy Marketing to Your Business
Does your business have a defined enemy? Is it related to your “why?”
I encourage you to find an enemy. It could be more based on your competition, like Bernie. Perhaps it could be a social issue like Nike chose. You can even build a battle with a fun enemy like Popeyes did.
Get creative, but keep the enemy marketing sentiment at the core of your strategy.