It's rough. Suddenly you're on the defensive, protesting: "That's not what I meant!"
But then the other side just says, "It's what you said! It's what you said!"
And then, pretty much, you lose.
That's basically what's going on right now with Wendy's, and its Super Bowl ad that takes aim directly at McDonald's, using a line from McDonald's own website.
(The ad is embedded at the end of this article.)
The line, directly again from the McDonald's website: "Our beef is FLASH FROZEN to seal in fresh flavor."
Wendy's response: "The iceberg that sunk the Titanic was frozen too. Just sayin'."
And then Wendy's starts to hit its own messaging hard: "WE ONLY USE FRESH NEVER FROZEN BEEF ON EVERY HAMBURGER EVERY DAY..."
Running that short ad--and honestly, there's really not much more to it than that--cost $5 million.
But for Wendy's, it might be a bargain.
First, it's about hammering McDonald's at every opportunity.
Second, it's about making everybody associate Wendy's with fresh meat.
Finally, it's about translating its viciously effective social-media campaigns to television.
Because Wendy's is tiny compared to McDonald's. It has about 6,500 restaurants, compared to almost 37,000 McDonald's around the world.
But as Danny Klein of QSR points out, Wendy's Twitter feed is pretty fierce--at least about as fierce as you can imagine the social-media account of a multibillion-dollar company being.
Can you imagine the team behind another fast food's brand doing an Reddit AmA?
In the lead up to the Super Bowl, for example, they kept tweeting directly at McDonald's.
Even just simple, short, annoying tweets, such as "Hey, u up?" on Saturday night.
On National Compliment Day, which was Jan. 24, somebody challenged them to offer a compliment to McDonald's. They came up with this line that was 100 percent on-message: "They are absolutely amazing at freezing beef."
Now, they're taking that same kind of social-media trolling to TV.
For a company that insists they never freeze anything, they started with a pretty sick burn.
Here's the ad. What do you think? Let us know in the comments.