In India a recent advertisement on TV openly comparing between rival detergent brands caused an uproar in the blogosphere with bloggers discussing about rivalry, fair competition and ethics.
Asstha Jain at Add2Ad blog informs:
On Friday (beginning of weekend), all eyes were widened to see an ad from Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) for their brand Rin in which they do more than direct comparison with their competitor Proctor & Gamble (P&G) brand Tide (Tide Natural rather). The ad not only speak the product attributes of Tide which they claim but also hit their marketing theme. [..] The rivalry between these two brands is on since long when HUL reduced its price by 10-15% percent when Tide was offering 20% extra washing powder.
Rin Detergent vs. Tide Naturals. Video uploaded by YouTube user Kunaljha123:
Gupta Infomedia explains:
The voiceover “Tide se kahin behtar safedi de Rin (Rin washes much whiter than Tide)” leaves nothing to imagination. It's war, open and direct. Barring rare exceptions, fast moving consumer goods brands have stayed away from direct hits at competing brands.
Vivek Bhatia at Markadising Zone notes:
It’s the first time in India that competing brands have been named rather than pixilated (as they usually are) in a TV commercial.
Vivek provides updates as the battle has moved to court:
HUL claims that the Rin commercial is in line of advertising regulations laid by the industry. HUL terms its claim to be factual, accurate and substantiated based on laboratory tests done through globally accepted protocols in independent third party laboratories. ASCI has even issued a notice to HUL to substantiate its claim.
P&G has also moved to High court against the disparaging advertisement of HUL's Rin. Prior to this, HUL had challenged P&G's claim in its advertisement on Tide Natural. On being directed by ASCI, P&G seems to have modified its advertisement.
Is it healthy to throw mud at the competitor to state your point and increase the sales? Does these advertisements really affect the buying pattern of the public?
Harish Bijoor at Indian Marketing Trends notices that the Indian brands are getting back to the good old basics. He opines that the current piece of Rin advertising is very clear in its visual language of comparison:
Hey! This is old hat. This kind of comparative advertising used to work in the good old days when consumers sat up and made purchase decisions basis product attributes and product delivery norms in terms of solutions. Good scent and whiteness are rather both generic to the category. How much ever anyone shouts in messaging such as this, consumers are going to be yawning and saying what next. Consumers hate this kind of relapse into age-old advertising formats that have the same old message of the sixties with the creative ability and excellence of production standards of the 2000’s staring back at them. Wake up and smell the change.
The battles between brands are growing intense in India which is evident from the most famous cola wars in the past decade to the recent Onida vs Nokia advertisement war. Sumathi Chandrashekaran at Spicy IP talks about another battle between kitchen cleaner brands ‘Mr Muscle Kitchen Cleaner’ and ‘CIF Cream', which was settled in court.
So it remains to be seen how Indian consumers deal with these comparative ads. They need to be aware of what competitive advertising can do.