iDont.com at first appears to be just another anti-iPod site created by a talented graphics designer with too much time on her hands. However, it actually is a heavily disguised ad for SanDISK’s new Sansa e200 portable music player. Just like Real’s ill-fated “Freedom of Music Choice” campaign from 2004, it claims to be about freedom of choice, of thinking for yourself instead of mindlessly following the majority crowd. Which, in itself, is a feasible marketing message, if it wasn’t for the fact that the site’s underlying leitmotiv is to insult iPod users downright. Have a look at their “Materials” section and you’ll know what I mean.
If you have to resort to this kind of marketing tactics, more often than not it’s because your product is not desirable enough in its own right, or is not different enough to lure customers over to it from the market leader. If you do have a great product, just showing off the product’s features (including non-technical aspects like styling and prestige) alone should suffice to make that product successful. The iPod is a good example for how this can work.
But there’s more to it: attacking your competitor’s customers instead of your competitor’s products is not only lame; it is downright dangerous. Regardless of whether this strategy succeeds in getting new customers to buy your product, it will ensure that those whom you attack may never consider buying from you again, even when they’re looking for a replacement of whatever they are using at the time.
In the case of the SanDISK campaign, any time I’ll be seeing one of their products, I’ll be reminded that they once compared me to sheep, chimps, or donkeys just for being a satisfied iPod user. And I don’t really think that someone who views me that way is worthy of my business.