Historical rivalry of the battery bunnies
Historical rivalry of the battery bunnies
Last Edited: 11/Jan/2016

Ask anyone below the age of 20 what image they associate with batteries and they’ll probably start running on the spot pretending to be a pink rabbit. Yet which rabbit they are referencing will likely depend on where they are in the world.

The Duracell Bunny - with its pink fur, gold and black brand-coloured clothes and seemingly endless energy - has been a highly successful, long-running campaign within the batteries industry. With a recognisable character and a message that’s clear to understand, it ticks all bases when it comes to marketing prowess. But he isn’t the only bunny on the block.

It may have taken them 16 years since the Duracell Bunnies first started running, but company rivals Energizer eventually decided to take the fight to their rabbit opponents with a comical counter-campaign. They released the Energizer Bunny, a slightly different rabbit who yet again is powered through a battery. There were subtle differences between the two - the Energizer Bunny had a slightly different shade of pink, body shape and ears, while also wearing sunglasses. Its overall main message was simple: we’re mocking Duracell.

The competitor was to deal many blows to the famed gold and black-clad rabbit over the coming years. It started by forcing Duracell to alter its bunny’s habits, dropping the drum beating after the Energizer Bunny started mocking his opponent’s musical capabilities. Over time it also compelled the company to keep the bunny character as a long-term strategy, despite initial plans to leave it as a one-off success.

Yet it was a law suit that dealt the crushing blow to Duracell’s place in the American market. The company didn’t renew its trademark and, as a result, lost it when Energizer filed a claim for using a ‘battery bunny’ for marketing purposes in the US and Canada. As a result, the Duracell Bunny no longer appears in the States.

The implications of this go beyond market dominance in the batteries industry, as both rabbits have had an impact on cultural references in different areas of the world. In the US the term ‘Energizer Bunny’ refers to a person or thing that has limitless energy, whereas in Europe and Australia the same definition is given to the phrase ‘Duracell Bunny’.

Over time, the rabbits have fused into a similar concept that spans continents and nations. It is a fitting tribute to the most well-known bunnies of all time.