Ad battles are nothing new in the world of tech. Some are subtle, some are loud but all of these campaigns have the same intention: to prove how their brand or product is better than the competition. And the latest name added to the tech ad war zone is iQOO. The brand might be a little more than a year old (and less than even half a year in India) but it is “not settling” and going after one of the most popular brands around: OnePlus.

Back in February this year, IQOO launched the IQOO 3 in India which not only came with the top of the line specs but with a very affordable price tag (and one which has got even more affordable with some price cuts since). Sounds familiar? Well, many brands have been using this exact same strategy to make their mark in the smartphone industry, and OnePlus is one of the pioneers that actually started this trend. But OnePlus with its latest series, has entered the flagship zone itself, leaving the “flagship killer” title up for grabs.

Many brands have taken this opportunity to create smartphones that come with high-end specs and relatively affordable price tags and the IQOO 3 is one of them. But unlike other brands that have released smartphones and ads to promote the products themselves, IQOO is actually going after OnePlus in its latest ad campaign that features the IQOO 3. Well, we DID mention that it was one of the contenders that could pose a very stiff challenge to the OnePlus 8 and through this campaign, it seems iQOO wants to want to make sure that everyone sees it as a OnePlus alternative.

“Settle for Less” – Targeting OnePlus 8!

The campaign called “#YouDecide” has three ads in it so far. These highlight different features of the smartphone and how you can get a better smartphone experience on the phone by spending less. “Monster touch buttons,” “Super flash charge,” and “Snapdragon 865” are three different ads that highlight the features mentioned in the title. All of them share the same core concept.

They start with a question related to a feature, then bring in the OnePlus angle by mentioning how one can “Settle for less” and spend Rs. 7,000 more which is the price difference between the iQOO 3 and the OnePlus 8 (the iQOO 3 starts at Rs 34,999 while the OnePlus 8 starts at Rs 41,999), adding a long red rectangular box on the screen (with no branding though) which again hints at OnePlus.

After this, the ads highlight how the iQOO 3 offers better features for a lesser price as compared to a phone that looks very much like the OnePlus 8 – faster charging, monster buttons for gaming saving your thumbs from “thumb effort” and faster performance from LPDDR5 RAM. All of the three ads are about 30 seconds long and have the same music and most of the design elements are the same as well.

The ads are short, simple, and uncomplicated. All of these ads pose a question, in the beginning, then they use the features and price tag of their competition to their own benefit and then answer the question by introducing the feature of iQOO 3 which they aim to highlight in the ad. And show how the feature works better on iQOO 3 as compared to the competition. It may sound complicated but it works very smoothly in the ad campaign. The ads do not beat around the bush. They just focus on highlighting a feature and target OnePlus from the get-go.

iqoo targets oneplus in #youdecide campaign - iqoo vs oneplus

For a brand that has recently entered the smartphone market, we think it is really brave of IQOO to go so directly after OnePlus. All of the three ads in the campaign use the same settings and the core concept but credit to IQOO because the campaign delivers the message very well. These are very basic ads in terms of production value. They do not feature anything excessive or extravagant and still manage to highlight the USP of its product.

Hinting at OnePlus, not forgetting iQOO

Time and again we have mentioned how competitive advertising can be a double-edged sword, where many brands often end up giving more space and attention to their competition, defeating the whole purpose of releasing an ad in the first place. iQOO has dodged that bullet, we think because the ads do not mention OnePlus directly or highlight the OnePlus 8 anywhere and the attention largely remains on iQOO.

iqoo targets oneplus in #youdecide campaign - iqoo oneplus youdecide 2

But that does not mean, these ads do not target OnePlus. One of the things that we really liked about the ad campaign is that iQOO has very cleverly and clearly hinted that the ad campaign aims to compare how well the IQOO 3 does in comparison with the OnePlus 8 without really mentioning the brand or the phone’s name in the ad. The long red rectangular box, the “Settle for less” line and the price difference are all very loud signs that hint at the fact that the campaign is taking a jibe at OnePlus.

The ads do not give any attention to OnePlus directly but the fact that they are not too nuanced makes it remarkably easy for anyone watching to understand that OnePlus 8 is the phone targeted here. And that is what makes the campaign work for us.

The name of the ad campaign, “#YouDecide” is also very consumer empowering. It projects it as if it is just presenting viewers with facts and asking them to decide, and is not advertising its products. This obviously earns iQOO some brownie points as it becomes the brand that is not bombarding you with just the positives of its own products but actually seems to be thinking of your benefit by offering these facts. Interestingly, all the parameters that the videos highlight are spec-oriented, which reduces the question of subjectivity.

Will it work? #YouDecide!

OnePlus must be accustomed to being targeted by the completion (Xiaomi did it with the Redmi K20 campaign in 2019), so we cannot really say if this campaign will ruffle any feathers in that Never Settling camp. And the OnePlus 8 series does have its own aces – the design, the 90 Hz refresh rate display, and of course, the OS. But iQOO’s campaign does have layers of cleverness running through it and all of this is done in just half a minute.

That makes #YouDecide a potential “flagship killer” campaign for a phone looking to be the next flagship killer. Whether it will be or not is another matter, but it definitely has hit the right communication buttons. And very aggressively too.

Is the iQOO 3 actually a better deal than the OnePlus 8? Stay tuned for our review.

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