Three reasons Wix’s anti-WordPress ads campaign has crashed

Posted on April 14, 2021

 

Website-building tool Wix has launched an aggressive set of adverts taking aim at its competitor WordPress, but for a variety of reasons, the campaign appears to have disconnected with the tech and search engine optimisation (SEO) community.

The ads depict a man receiving therapy, supposedly traumatised by his experiences of WordPress, which is personified as an absent father. Using the tagline “You Deserve Better”, the ads address supposed WordPress flaws, such as glitches with updates, vulnerability to hackers and conflicting plug-ins. Two of them can be seen below:

The campaign is certainly bullish, but that’s not the only adjective beginning with “bull-” I can think of to describe it. I think it’s a horrendous campaign, and this Search Engine Journal article suggests I’m not alone. Take a look at some of the comments on those two videos as well – it’s a wonder Wix hasn’t disabled them!

So, what’s wrong with it? Here are just three problems I can think of:

1. Negative “small man syndrome” advertising

Some commentators have drawn a comparison between these ads and the Mac vs PC campaigns of the ‘00s, but at least those ads clearly explained what Macs did differently to PCs. Wix’s ads, on the other hand, don’t tell me anything about why I should use Wix.

They make criticisms of WordPress, some of which may be valid, but say nothing about what Wix does differently. They remind me of the broadcasts political parties put on at election time where they spend ages telling us their rival party is rubbish, but no time at all explaining why they are any better.

For a company in computing of all sectors, Wix should know that use of a website building platform is not a binary choice. If people don’t like WordPress, there are countless competitors they can turn to, and Wix is just one of them. What is Wix’s unique selling point (USP), besides “we’re not WordPress”?

As Jon Henshaw – who works in SEO for companies including Paramount and Viacom – tweets, it’s the wrong approach to marketing, and makes Wix appear to have a chip on its shoulder.

2. Alienates the SEO community

Worse than just being a little petty though, the ads could be seen as insulting towards a huge number of web developers and the general internet-using community. After all, WordPress powers 59% of websites built through a content management system (CMS), and almost a third (32%) of websites in total. That’s an enormous slice of the web to poke fun at.

In a second tweet, Henshaw questioned whether this somewhat quarrelsome approach will erode the slight improvement in reputation Wix has enjoyed within the community of late.

Wix even sent promotional headphones to prominent users of WordPress as part of the campaign, perhaps implying them to be “tone deaf”.

3. Trivialises mental health and family breakdowns?

Lastly, and on an altogether different matter, is the question of whether therapy and family conflict are really the best themes for Wix to play with? Especially at the moment, with such a clear link being drawn between the pandemic and mental health issues, it seems flippant to use this serious matter as a vehicle to nit-pick about website functionality. It’s as if the people doing Wix’s marketing decided that having put together such an abrasive and bare-faced campaign, they might as well go the whole hog and make it offensive, obnoxious and in poor taste as well.

The ads even prompted WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg to blog an eloquent response where, among other complaints, he cites Wix’s refusal to allow users to export content and how difficult it makes it to end a contract, asking which platform is really more representative of an “abusive relationship”.

WordPress is not without its faults, and there is an argument that it would benefit from some healthy competition, but it remains the first choice of most SEO experts and web developers, including ourselves at Engage Web. To understand why, and learn how we can help you get even more out of your site, why not speak to us?

Content Team Leader at Engage Web
John works for Engage Web as a Content Team Leader and regularly contributes to the website and programmes of his beloved Chester F.C.
John Murray
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