Friday, March 5, 2010

Rin Vs. Tide Ad issue: Case before Calcutta High Court

Hindustan Unilever & P&G are centrepiece of another controversial advertisement battle

Amit Jain on Thu, 04/03/2010 - 08:32

The battle for market share in laundry segment has spread from pricing to other platforms like open air advertising etc. P&G has filed a case in the Calcutta High Court against Hindustan Unilever's new ad campaign, which openly claims the superiority of its product Rin over P&G's Tide.

HUL's new Rin campaign, which started over last weekend when the courts were closed, claims that Rin provides more brightness in comparison to Tide Naturals. Tide Naturals is a new product that P&G launched a few months back in the mass segment positioning it against Rin as well as Wheel.

The reason that triggered this campaign is HUL's new found aggression to regain market share in the laundry segment. Tide Natural came up with an advertisement a few weeks ago where it claimed it provided whiteness with a special fragrance. HUL subsequently challenged Tide's claim in the Chennai High Court following to which the court asked P&G on March 1 2010 to modify the ad since they were not really able to substantiate the claim. A written judgment is still awaited on this matter.

Meanwhile, the advertising watchdog Advertisement Standard Council of India (ASCI) has said it has issued a notice to FMCG major HUL asking it to substantiate its claim in two weeks about the TV commercial that its washing powder Rin is better than rival P&G's Tide.

Similar duals have been happening between two private airlines-Jet Airways and Kingfisher, leading beverage players "Coca Cola" and Pepsico, and more recently between two digital TV service providers "Big TV' and "Airtel". Time and again such cases drag on to the courts on grounds of fair advertising codes before being forced to be withdrawn. However, by the time such cases get decided in courts in one to two weeks time, the companies launching the controversial campaigns get some headway before they are withdrawn.

Courtesy_

Also read the related stories

Calcutta HC puts brakes on HUL's Rin commercial

Viveat Susan Pinto / Mumbai March 06, 2010, 0:44 IST

But, Madras HC not happy with P&G disclaimer for Tide Naturals’ ad.

The Calcutta High Court today passed an interim order restraining Hindustan Unilever (HUL) from airing its commercial for Rin, the washing soap/powder brand. HUL was given 72 hours to comply.

The commercial, launched on February 26, highlights how it delivers superior whiteness in comparison to arch rival Proctor and Gamble’s Tide Naturals. The ad voice-over states: Tide se kahin behatar safedi de Rin (Rin gives much better whiteness than Tide).

“A detailed order is awaited. HUL will comply with the (stop) order,” said an HUL spokesperson, when asked for a comment.

Sources, however, said HUL would not mind withdrawing the ad, as it had already had a run for over a week and its purpose had been served.

Sumeet Vohra, marketing director of Procter & Gamble, India, said: “We are pleased that the Calcutta High Court supports our view that the recent Rin advertisement is misleading, and that the comparison made by HUL in the advertisement is false and incorrect. It is heartening to note that the court does not uphold the breaking of certain rules and guidelines that all advertisers have been following in this country so far.”

Salman Waris, Head of Technology Practice at India’s largest law firm, FoxMandal Little, said the issue of disparagement is dealt with under Section 36 of the MRTP Act and the Delhi High Court, in its Pepsi vs Cola decision (2003), “held that although a seller is entitled to glorify his product, in the process, he is not to denigrate or disparage a rival’s product”.

Earlier, too, in the comparative advertising case involving Dabur and Wipro, the Delhi High court held that “It is one thing to say that the defendant’s product is better than that of the plaintiff and it is another thing to say that the plaintiff’s product is inferior to that of the defendant.”

However, even as P&G revels in its victory over its arch rival at the Calcutta High Court, it was in a subdued mood at the Madras High Court, where HUL got a leg up in the matter pending before the court there.

In a hearing today, the Madras HC was dissatisfied with the modification made by P&G in its Tide Naturals’ commercial. The court reasoned that the font of the disclaimer - ‘It does not contain lemon and chandan’ - was too small. The court is said to have directed P&G to display the disclaimer prominently. The matter will come up for hearing on Tuesday.

HUL had objected to the use of the word ‘Naturals’ in the brand name, packaging, advertisement and sales promotions of Tide Naturals during today’s hearing at the Madras HC. If this relief sought by HUL is upheld, say industry and legal experts, it could put the entire Tide Naturals brand in jeopardy. “That’s because,” says a legal source, “P&G would have to modify the brand name altogether. This is dangerous because the company has invested in building the brand as it stands now.”

The legal departments of both companies are said to be hard at work trying to puncture each other’s defenses in the respective high courts.

As the HUL spokesperson indicates, the matter before the Calcutta HC is far from over. “It still continues,” he says.

Courtesy_

1 comment:

  1. welll..amazing stand by HUL..dis is certnly gona raise the levels in comparative advertising...gr8 to see such thrilling strategic move by HUL..certnly ..for the customers..its a benefit..coz..such adds..r gona force companies to raise standards f quality..

    ReplyDelete

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