Corporate battles – Ads and cases

Brand managers are increasingly using comparative ads to showcase the superiority of their brands. It is difficult to do a comparative ad without showing the rival brand in some form. But when the competitor product is too obvious in the ad, it will end up in litigations.

Don’t use competitor brand names:

Hindustan Unilever in its recent ad for Lifebuoy Skin Guard soap depicted Dettol original soap, flagship brand of Reckitt Benckiser (India). Reckitt Benckiser went to the courts alleging that the commercial disparaged its Dettol brand. The Delhi High Court has restrained HUL from telecasting the advertisement and also directs HUL to pay Rs.5 lakh as damages to Reckitt.

C for Complan, H for what?

Heinz India in its ad for health drink brand Complan, used two cups marked C and H. In the advertisement it showed that “H” cup has less protein than “C” cup. GlaxoSmithKline, which owned the Horlicks brand, objected to this ad, went to courts and obtained an order restraining Heinz from publishing the advertisement.

Red is not Lifebuoy, blue is not parachute:

Reckitt India in a Dettol ad used four different colored soaps green, brown, white and red in the background and claimed that it was better than them. HLL (HUL now) objected to this ad and alleged that the ad disparaged its brand Lifebuoy soap (red in color for years). The Delhi high court however dismissed its plea.

In the Vatika hair oil ad, Dabur used a blue bottle and stated that Vatika Coconut Hair Oil is superior to normal coconut oils. Marico alleged that the blue bottle is similar to Parachute bottle. It went to the court and alleged that the ad disparaged its brand Parachute. However, when the Calcutta High Court refused to grant an ex-parte injunction and Dabur stating that the campaign was not aimed at disparaging any competitors product, Marico withdrew the case.

Advantage comparative ads?

Does comparative advertising helps improve the brand image? Is it really worth to do a comparative ad and then fight with the competitor in the court rooms? What do you think?


  1. It’s all about VALUE PROPOSITION!

    The customer must believe that we provide a net value greater than alternatives.

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