Calcutta High Court stays HUL's Rin V/s Tide commercial

The Calcutta High Court today restrained FMCG major Hindustan Unilever from telecasting its controversial comparative Rin v/s Tide TV commercial (See: Rin versus Tide: The limits to comparative advertising)

Delivering its judgement on a petition filed by rival Procter and Gamble (P&G), the maker of the detergent Tide, (See: P&G moves HC against HUL; may launch tit-for-tat ad) Justice Patheriya ruled that the present commercial amounts to a clear case of disparagement i.e a manufacturer is not entitled to say that his competitor's goods are bad so as to puff and promote his goods. 

On a submision by HUL that there were technical difficulties pertaining to satellite feeds in immediately withdrawing the commercials, the order will be applicable from Monday, 8 March. In the meanwhile HUL has agreed to reduce the frequency of the ads, till its withdrawal.

The injunction has been granted on the following grounds:

a) The HUL ad depicted Tide Naturals whereas the voice-over was for Tide;

b) The laboratory reports produced by HUL under cover of two affidavits in support of its claim of superior whiteness had inherent defects i.e the ad drew comparison of samples of Tide and Tide Naturals;

c) The judgements quoted by HUL pertained to print media and not television or electronic media, which have a wider impact and reach. Thus the judgements were not applicable.

It appers that the recent battle between P&G and HUL is long drawn, with its roots linked to an earlier suit, filed by HUL against P&G in Chennai on 25 February 2010, wherein HUL was successful in obtaining injunction against P&G for its Tide Natural commercial claiming that the detergent contains natural ingredients such as lemon and 'chandan' (sandalwood).