Disclaimer: This is not a conventional list. Just so you know.

A little competition never hurt anybody. But some competitors have gone lengths to stake their claim. Like Edison electrocuting animals to prove that Tesla’s AC current was dangerous, or Coke and Pepsi taking jabs at each other through marketing stunts.

Here are five of the greatest rivalries in business.

Marvel vs. DC Comics

Superman vs The Incredible Hulk. Batman vs Iron Man. Flash vs Quicksilver. Justice League vs The X-men. I could go on and on but you already get the point. Right from an early age, we have had to choose sides in this rivalry. Which comic-verse is better? Who has the better superheroes. Although I suspect we will never come to a consensus on this matter, it is important to note that Marvel beats DC on the business front. Marvel’s movie franchises (The Avengers and Spiderman) pulled in more than $6 billion and occupy top spots on the highest grossing movie list of all time.

Marvel is now under the Disney enterprise umbrella, while DC is owned by Time Warner. For a long time though, these two comic brands have taken up about 80 percent of the comic book market in America.

Coke vs. Pepsi

The battle of the sugar-water brands. Growing up, it was either Coca Cola or Pepsi. There were no inbetweeners. This is definitely one of the most revolutionary business rivalries ever. Pepsi had Michael Jackson, and now Beyonce. Coke had, well, Coke. Coke probably did not consider Pepsi as a serious threat (one of their biggest mistakes ever) until 1979 when Pepsi overtook them as the top selling cola drink. This led Coke to make a high profile blunder, tampering with their formula and facing consumer backlash. Fortunately for Coke, they acknowledged their mistake on time and saved face.

Till today, Coke remains the more dominant brand but this rivalry has produced some of the biggest jabs in the history of advertising. And yes, Coke’s brand influence produced the Red Santa Claus as we know it today.

Edison vs. Tesla

We’ve all heard the Thomas Edison myth/legend before haven’t we? The one that tells us how he tried 9,999 times before finally getting the light bulb right. The truth is, the team (emphasis on team) that Edison was working with tried out 6,000 possible plant materials before getting the right contenders for the light bulb elements. No doubt Edison is [one of] the greatest inventors ever. But he was challenged by his protege, Nikola Tesla.

Time Magazine reports that “Tesla designed several products for Edison, expecting to receive a promised $50,000 bonus for his efforts (about $1 million today). But when Tesla asked for his reward in the spring of 1885, Edison told him it had been a joke all along. Tesla quit.” He went on to discover AC current, as opposed to Edison’s DC current.

This discovery morphed into one of the greatest invention and corporate battles ever. Edison tried all he could to discredit Tesla’s discovery, staging outrageous demonstrations in the process. In the long run, Tesla’s AC technology won the war of currents, but Edison’s GE won the business war.

Milo vs Bournvita

If you’re a Milo person say “Uhn uhn, uhn uhn”. If you’re a Bournvita person say “Yeah yeah!”

From Milo Last Kid Standing vs Cadbury Breakfast Show, to the differing texture of both beverages, this rivalry has long existed in Nigeria. Like the Marvel vs DC conflict, we were born into this one too. Some say Bournvita is more nutritious than Milo, but do we really know? What we know, from general consensus, is that Milo is the more popular choice. But those who love Bournvita have their reasons, and they are loyal. Those who love Milo, most probably fell in love with all their ‘Superhero kids’ adverts. Probably.

Indomie vs Others

When you walk into a shop [in Nigeria], do you ever tell the attendant you want to buy noodles, or that you want to buy Indomie? Even if it’s not Indomie you want to buy. As long as it’s noodles, it’s probably Indomie. So here in Nigeria, there are two brands of noodles: Indomie and the others.

Indomie has first-mover’s advantage in Nigeria and has maintained its quality over the years. This has made consumers trust the Indomie brand despite the fact that just over a decade ago, there was a case of Killer Indomie scare. The brand was able to handle this well, strengthening its brand value all the more. Many other noodle brands have entered Nigerian market but none has been able to dethrone Indomie, yet.

Honorary Mentions

Adidas vs Puma

Steve Jobs vs Bill Gates


Apple vs Samsung

iOS vs Android


Panadol vs Paracetamol


Photo Credit: Lawrence OP via Compfight cc

David Adeleke Author

Get the best African tech newsletters in your inbox