Last week, Pepsi took advantage of Halloween with an attention-grabbing advertisement aimed at spooking Coke. But did the idea end up backfiring?

The ad itself featured a Pepsi can dressed up with a Coca-Cola cape, along with the title “We wish you a scary Halloween.” The ad went viral within a few hours of being posted to the Pepsi Belgium Facebook page, getting thousands of shares and spreading to Twitter, Google+, and Reddit like wildfire.

Some immediately called the move risky for Pepsi, as it was a direct shot at their biggest rival, Coca-Cola. (Pepsi was cleverly able to avoid a copyright lawsuit with a subtle change to Coke’s logo; take a closer look at the “L” and the “C”.)

Others thought the ad was a bit unclear. The Pepsi can is, after all, disguised as a Coke can, and to some, it appeared as though the message were implying that Pepsi wanted to be Coke. Social comments confirmed some initial confusion, though shares and retweets abounded. So regardless, the ad had its desired effect by catching everyone’s attention on Halloween night.

Here’s where the story gets interesting. Coke wasted no time firing back, first recognizing and then taking advantage of the weak point in Pepsi’s marketing strategy. Check out their unofficial response:

Coke was careful not to directly insult Pepsi, but brilliantly flipped Pepsi’s entire advertising campaign in their favor by using the exact same photo and simply changing the title to “Everybody wants to be a hero.”

Never underestimate the value of smart marketing, and taking advantage of your competitor’s weakness.

What did you think of the Halloween 2013 Pepsi/Coke throwdown?