Should you ever issue a press statement about your competitor?

Even though they never let me keep the multi-room music system that they sent as a review unit :-), I have still always admired Sonos as a company, with their combination of terrific product, attractive packaging and smart marketing. In many senses, they’re like a mini-Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) , albeit minus The Steve.
Nonetheless, the chutzpah of the message they sent out in response to an announcement by another cool company, Logitech (Nasdaq: LOGI), is quite something:

Hello Dave,
As someone that has seen and met with Sonos in the past, we wanted to drop you a note about a new product launch that is scheduled for this week that has been positioned as a competitor to the Sonos Multi-Room Music System.
Following their launch at CES, we understand from all of the information we have gathered that Logitech has positioned the new Logitech Duet as a price-cutting alternative to the Sonos Multi-Room Music System.
Since we have been in the market for over three years now and have shipped more than 300,000 units, we felt this would be a good opportunity to clarify a few and update you on a few things about Sonos and the relation to the Duet.
With your permission, we would like to send you a one-page document that covers four questions we have commonly received about the comparison of the Sonos Multi-Room Music System and the Logitech Duet over the past month.
Of course, if you would like to speak with a Sonos executive about the upcoming Logitech Duet launch or anything else related to music and entertainment in the digital home, just let us know and we’d be happy to arrange.
Thank you as always for your time.
Thomas Meyer
Sonos, Inc.

In all my decades of being in the industry, I can’t think of a previous communication from a PR company or corporate flack that was quite as brazen. At least they didn’t include the “four questions” about how the Sonos unit is superior to the Logitech unit, but it’s still quite a remarkably aggressive approach.
What do you think? Can you envision similar sorts of communication between similarly sized corporations and do you think it’s a good strategic move?

4 comments on “Should you ever issue a press statement about your competitor?

  1. Dave,
    My first blush reaction is favorable towards this approach. Their letter to you was well crafted in that it recognized the relationship they had established with you and informed you that a response piece was available.
    If they had included the Q&A or directly stated a “rebuttal”, it would have been very defensive and inappropriate… and would not at all have accomplished what they wanted from you.
    I would call this a “confident” response rather than a brazen one. To me, they exuded confidence in their own product without making any direct comparisons. And should you never receive the competitive PR or choose not to review the competitive product, they have better established their brand by the implication.
    I think it was pretty darn smart. And clever.
    Jim Pollock

  2. Hi Dave,
    I’m the Tech Editor for a men’s magazine in Canada, Driven, and this feels like something I would receive from someone I work with on a regular basis. In fact, just last Monday, a fellow that represents a mobile phone manufacturer and I had a very frank conversation (that he initiated) about a marketing approach of another mobile phone manufacturer that he felt was directly competing with theirs.
    I welcomed this insight and I was able to digest what he was saying and then looked at it from the other company’s point of view.
    If I didn’t have a relationship with this PR person and they had just phoned or e-mailed out of the blue I would be a bit put off. But I didn’t mind because he was doing his job and was trying to engage me.
    For me, this is an appropriate letter to you and the fact that they ask you if you’d like to see their four points is professional.

  3. Great to see these perspectives. Thinking about this further, I also imagine that there’s not much difference between this “clarification” memo from Sonos and the press release Google issued about Microsoft’s potential acquisition of Yahoo a few week ago.

  4. Indeed this PR piece is very well written. But the question now arises – what should Logitech do to create buzz in its favor. Should they hit back or take a defensive approach. I think they should do something about it?

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