Top 5 Brand Clashes

From the football field to Hollywood, with brands being present everywhere, it should come as no surprise that they sometimes clash.

In the past few decades the world has been taken over by brands. In the form of advertising, sponsorships, product placement, brand ambassadors and many other methods, brand are everywhere.  Despite this race for world dominance, most brands manage to live in peaceful marketing co-existence. However, from time to time, their activities clash, and the results are some interesting stories, here are Brand Domain’s 5 favourite stories:

5. Football (or Soccer for American readers) – Pepsi vs Coca Cola/Adidas vs Nike:

As the most popular sport in the world, European football attracts billions of dollars in marketing activities every year throughout the globe.  Such a concentration of money, stakes, popularity and of course brands, sometimes results in some serious conflicts of interest.

In Summer 2013, whilst on tour in Australia, the world famous Manchester United threatened to not walk onto the field because the arena was flashing Coca Cola commercials whilst the club was in the final talks of a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal with Pepsi Co.

Eventually a compromise was met, and the Coca-Cola commercials were replaced with commercials for other Coca-Cola Company products that were not Pepsi competitors.

4. Football – Adidas vs Nike:

Another recent, and much more visible, clash of brands in football was when a player who was being unveiled at Bayern Munich turned up in a flashy Nike t shirt.  The problem? Bayern Munich is heavily sponsored and even partly owned by Adidas,  and they were not happy!


3. Girl with the dragon Tattoo: Sony vs Apple

The successful Swedish crime novel features a very tech savvy main character, who in the original books clearly uses Apple gear:

“The rucksack contained her white Apple iBook 600 with a 25-gig hard drive and 420 megs of RAM, manufactured in January 2002 and equipped with a 14-inch screen. At the time she bought it, it was Apple’s state-of-the-art laptop… computer equipment was the only extravagant entry on her list of expenses.”

So it seems obvious that when the novel was adapted to the silver screen, that the main character would keep her faithful Apple laptop. This was the case in the Swedish version of the film, but when Sony Pictures Entertainment acquired the right for a US version of the film it became less certain.  Sony, being a a subsidiary of the Sony Corporation, often fills its films with Sony electronics (see The Amazing Spiderman below or think James Bond).

In the end, Sony was reasonable and did not altogether replace the Apple products with Sony Vaio but did take every opportunity to slip their products in.

2. Marvel – Audi vs Acura:

A big trend in movies is for a car companies to sponsor an entire film and sometimes even an entire film series.  This usually results in the main character being associated with the brand and a particular model the company is trying to push.  Edward Cullen always drove a Volvo in the Twilight series, and whilst the brand changes every now and again, James Bond is always seen at the wheel of a prestigious car brand.

Iron Man was no exception, and its studio entered an long term agreement for Tony Stark to be seen driving an array of Audi vehicles throughout the Iron Man series.


However, Iron Man was only a piece of the puzzle for Marvel Studios, who was building up its Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Hulk series in order to launch the Avenger Juggernaut Franchise.  Within the Thor movie, another agreement was made, for Honda’s subsidiary, Acura, to be the official car of S.H.I.E.L.D., the fictional agency that appears in most of the individual series and bring all the superheroes together in the Avenger movies.  It seems the Acura agreement superseded the Audi one, as when he appears in the Avenger universe, Tony Stark/Iron man is seen driving an Acura vehicle.


Each film has different sponsors, so this is not a brand conflict in itself, but there is more.

A gimmick of Marvel films is to show a few bonus minutes at the end of their films, after the credits, which link the movies together.  At the end of Iron Man 2, a S.H.I.E.LD. agent, who had been seen driving an Audi the entire film, appears in a short scene linking the events to those of Thor, and he is driving an Acura.   The scene is actually taken from the Thor movie, but in the bonus scene, the Acura logo is clearly blurred out. Audi must have objected to the other brand appearing in its movie and requested this, hence showing the power of these commercial agreements.


1. Basketball/Olympics – Reebok vs Nike:

In 1992, at the Barcelona Summer Olympics, where basketball was opened up, for the first time, to non-amateur athletes, the United States “Dream Team” swept all competition aside to claim the gold medal.  The team was  made up of some of the greatest basketball players of all time, including Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and David Robinson.

dream team

Now the way sponsorship work in today’s Olympics is that one company sponsors the Olympics themselves (for London 2012 it was Adidas) and then each country has their own sponsor (for the USA team in London 2012 it was Nike) which appears on all their kits.  However, back in 1992, their were different sponsors for everything.  What this meant was that whilst Champion appears on the Dream Team’s playing jersey, Reebok appeared on their warm-up suits.  You may think the conflict occurred between these two brands, but no.  What happened was that following their win of the gold medal, but before the ceremony, Jordan & Co were informed they had to wear their Reebok warm up suits whilst being presented with their medals.  It is important to consider that, at the time, Champion was the official supplier of NBA uniforms, hence why there had not been any issue there, but that Reebok was one of the main competitors to Nike, especially in the shoe market. Players such as Michael Jordan or Charles Barkley had long standing and very lucrative contracts with Nike, and in act of loyalty to Nike, and defiance to Reebok, refused to be part of the ceremony wearing Reebok.  Whilst they did ultimately participate in the ceremony, they did so draped in American flags which covered up any Reebok logos.  The result was the despite all the money they spent of sponsoring the team, Reebok does not appear on the most famous pictures from the Dream Team such as the one below.


Can you think of interesting stories where brands have clashed?  Don’t hesitate to mention them in the comments! 


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