Marketing Strategy: Fight an Evil Enemy

Conflict sells. If you want to be noticed fight a powerful and evil enemy. Who or what are you fighting? While planning your marketing strategy pick an enemy. The tougher, the meaner, the more disgusting your enemy - the better for you. That positions you as the hero.

"You complete me"

The Joker taunted Batman with that phrase in the movie The Dark Knight. The public image of both Batman and the Joker were stronger because of their conflict. A champion needs a formidable villain and vice versa.

The marketing lesson from that is that the public defines you by your competition. If you are not well known maybe you need to pick a tougher enemy.

Make your enemy appear more frightening

The boxer Mohammad Ali understood this marketing principle and demonstrated it well. He built up the credibility and threat of each of his opponents before every fight. That made his victories more exciting. He promoted his fight against Smokin Joe Frazier as the Thrilla in Manillia. After the fight Ali said, "Joe Frazier, I'll tell the world right now, brings out the best in me. I'm gonna tell ya, that's one helluva man, and God bless him." In a brief post-fight interview with one of the commentators, Ali announced, "He is the greatest fighter of all times, next to me."

There's no glory or fame in defeating a weak opponent.

Superman was a bigger hero because of his dangerous enemy Lex Luthor. Sir Edmund Hillary would be nothing without the challenge of Mount Everest. Wyatt Earp is defined by his fight with the evil Clantons. The 300 Spartans are defined by their stand against the unstoppable forces of the Persian Empire. David and his sling shot is only remembered because of his conflict with the giant Goliath. Buffy the vampire killer would be unknown without the blood sucking vampires.

Conflict captures attention and helps to define your position and value.

Many consumer products are sold by fighting previously unknown enemies that were glorified by the marketing campaigns. Consumer products were promoted to fight morning breath, dandruff and ring around the collar.

Present yourself as the alternative
Avis could not defeat the market leader in the car rental business Hertz, so they defined themselves by the phrase, "We try harder."

With the taste tests Pepsi defined themselves as the alternative to Coke. It worked so well that it unnerved Coke into blinking and bumbling with New Coke. The folks at Pepsi must have enjoyed how they unnerved the market leader, Coke.

Make fun of the enemy
With its clever TV ads, (Hello, I'm a Mac. I'm a PC) Apple positioned itself as the alternative to the market leader, Microsoft based computers.

A local plumbing company positioned themselves as fighting clogged drains. The owners of the business made their enemy more formidable by posing for photos with clothes pins on their noses.

People love conflict. It's entertaining, memorable and often vivid. Sometimes it can be funny. That's why the "reality TV" shows are so popular.

If you want to be better noticed and remembered - pick a colorful enemy and start a fight. Only start one that you can win.

© George Torok is the co-author of the bestselling Secrets of Power Marketing. He helps business owners gain an unfair advantage over the competition. He helps connect business strategy to effective marketing tactics. To arrange an executive briefing visit For more free marketing tips visit To speak directly to George Torok call 905-335-1997