HUL's Rin versus Tide TV commercial may be headed for the courts. If the case does wind up in litigation, it would be interesting to see how Indian courts react to comparative advertising, says trade mark attorney, Navpreet Panjrath
Chance is always powerful. "Let your hook be always cast; in the pool where you least expect it, there will be a fish". It appears that FMCG major HUL has incorporated Ovid's quote in its advertising strategy.
The tussle between the big two - P&G and HUL - has been causing ripples in the industry since the launch of its Rin versus Tide comparative advertisement.
HUL has been under pressure since quite some time due to the launch of similar products backed by aggressive advertisement by its competitors. The latest conflict appears to have started when P&G introduced its brand Tide washing powder (in orange packaging), which ate into the sales of HUL's Rin washing powder.
Observers say HUL tried restructuring its brand portfolio and reduced prices so as to attract middle-class consumers.
In order to retain its market share, a couple of months ago P&G introduced a low-cost detergent, Tide Natural, claiming in its ads that it provided "whiteness with special fragrance". The product was positioned against HUL's Rin and Wheel.
HUL retaliated with an aggressive two-pronged strategy.
- First, it challenged Tide's claim of whiteness with special fragrance in the Chennai High Court, which passed an order on 25 February 2010 (CS 189/2010), directing P&G to modify the advertisement since it was not really able to substantiate the claim of "whiteness with special fragrance". The court has granted an injunction and directed P&G to respond within three weeks.
- Three days later on 28 February, HUL launched an aggressive TV campaign aired during prime time, showing two mothers waiting at a bus stop for their children returning from the school. While waiting together they glance at each other's shopping baskets.
One woman's basket has a packet of Rin detergent powder, while the other has a packet of Tide Naturals.
The Tide lady boasts confidently about Tide's khushboo aur safedi bhi (fragrance combined with whiteness) the theme on which the Tide Naturals campaign was based. The Rin lady does not show any reaction but has a beam on her face. Thereafter, the school bus stops and drops off the two children.
The child of the woman carrying Tide is wearing a visibly dull shirt, while behind him a boy comes out wearing a spotless white shirt, who runs across the shocked Tide lady towards the mother carrying the Rin packet.
Making the advertisement more aggressive, the boy asks his mother, "Aunty chaunk kyun gayi?" ("chaunk" or startle has been used in P&G's earlier punch line) as the ad concludes with a voice-over that Rin is 'behtar' than Tide, when it comes to whiteness and at a chaukanewala price of Rs25.