RIN v/s TIDE FACULTY:PROF. UDAY SHANKAR MODULE: AD SALES AND MANAGEMENT DATE: 6TH SEPTEMBER,2010 SHRUTI TYAGI ROLL NO:51442 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. In the first move of its kind by HUL, homecare brand Rin has openly taken on rival P Tide, without the typical airbrushing or pixellation to hide the rival brand name on TV and ads on radio. The current high profile aggressive stand of Rin has a background story. There was a proxy war going on between Rin and Tide since December 2009. In order to retain its market share, in December P 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. Tide Naturals was priced significantly lower to the Rin. Tide Naturals was launched at Rs 50 per Kg , Rs 10 for 200 gms and Rs 20 for400 gms. Rin was priced at Rs 70 per Kg at that time. The reduced price of the Tide variant was an immediate threat to Rin. Since Tide already has an established brand equity, Rin was bound to face the heat. Although HUL had another low priced brand Wheel priced at Rs 32/Kg, Tide was not in the same category of Wheel. Rin had to cut the price to resist the market share erosion. HUL was facing a steady erosion in the market share in most of the categories. In the detergent category itself, the brand faced a market share fall of 2. % in December 2009. With P&G starting a price war, HUL had to react and it did by cutting the price of Rin by 30% to Rs 50 per Kg. HUL also reacted to the Tide Natural’s price war in a ‘ Guerrilla Marketing ‘ way. It took P to the court regarding the Tide Natural’s advertisement. The contention was that Tide Naturals was giving the impression to the consumers that it contained natural ingredients like Sandal. The court ordered P&G to modify the campaign and P&G had to admit that Tide Naturals did not contain any Natural ingredients. While P&G opened a war in the price front, HUL retaliated by opening two war fronts. One was the direct comparative ad and other through the court order asking P&G to modify Tide Naturals Ad and to admit that Tide Naturals is not ‘ Natural’. So we can that 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 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 to respond within three weeks. Three days later on 28 February, HUL launched an aggressive TV campaign aired during prime time It was Rin which won the Round 1 of this war. It generated enough Buzz about the brand with all the media talking about the campaign. Rin was also able to neutralize the aggression of P to certain extent. Tide chose not to respond because further fuel to the fight can highlight the fact that Tide Naturals does not contain any ‘Natural Ingredients ” which may negatively affect the brand’s standing in the consumer’s mind. So it is better to play the role of a “poor” victim at this point of time. P&G can celebrate because of the free advertisement it got for Tide Naturals because of the comparative ad of Rin. Although Indian marketing world have seen lot of comparative ads, the Rin Vs Tide is a rare case of direct comparative ad where the brand has taken the competitor brand’s name and challenging it head on. That is the main reason behind the media noise about the campaign. P India always was a laid back competitor in the FMCG market. Despite having the product portfolio and market strength, it never realized its potential. The company was happy with their minuscule market share in the various categories in the FMCG business. For television viewers, it was hard to miss the now infamous Rin commercial, which was unleashed on Indian television screens on Thursday (February 25, 2010). Perhaps bombardment would be a better word: the high-voltage TVC was supported by a media plan that included primetime slots across all major GECs and news channels, in an effort to deliver maximum impact over the long weekend. The ad shows two mothers waiting at a bus stop for their children, who are returning from school. They spot each other’s shopping baskets – one woman’s basket sports a packet of Rin, while the other has purchased Tide Naturals. The Tide lady looks proudly at her purchase and brags about Tide’s ‘khushboo aur safedi bhi’ offering (fragrance combined with whiteness). The Rin lady simply smiles. When the school bus rounds the corner and drops off the two children, the Tide lady’s boy is wearing a visibly dull shirt, while behind him emerges a boy clad in a spotless white shirt, who runs past the shocked Tide lady, over to his ‘Rin’ mother. To make things cheekier, the boy asks his mother, ‘Aunty chaunk kyun gayi? ‘ (Why is aunty so shocked? ), where the word ‘chaunk’ could easily be a reference to Tide’s punch line, ‘Chaunk gaye? The voiceover concludes that Rin is ‘behtar’ or superior to Tide, when it comes to whiteness, and at a ‘chaunkane wala’ price of Rs 25, at that. A super, ‘Issued in the interest of Rin users’, completes the commercial. Comparative advertising is, quite obviously, not a new phenomenon by any standards. Every other brand has dabbled with it at some point, while it is almost formulaic for some categories. However, to make comparisons with competition involves discretion in execution, such as air-brushing or pixelating a competitor’s brand name/pack shot, and most definitely, keeping away from referring to rival brand names. With this ad, however, Rin seems to have broken every rule in the book. But what may seem like a publicity stunt to some, is, in all probability, a well-thought out strategy on the part of Rin’s makers, Hindustan Unilever (HUL). There are two debatable issues in this advertisement: * The advertisement clearly shows a packet of Tide Naturals, which has green packaging and is a cheaper extension of Tide, which orange packaging) whereas the woman in the commercial says ‘Tide se kahin behatar safedi de Rin’ (Rin gives better whiteness than Tide)- Does this amount to misleading the public as per the Indian Law? At the end of the advertisement, a line is displayed on the bottom stating that ”this claim is based on laboratory tests done through globally accepted protocols in independent third-party laboratories’ and Schematic representation of superior whiteness is based on Whiteness Index test of Rin Vs Tide Naturals as tested by Independent lab” . The challenge is whether the present statement(s) can be substantiated by way of evidence and if yes, whether such tests if conducted by any independent laboratory continue to be the same. Legal eagle The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has, over the last few days, received several complaints from customers/viewers, who feel that the comparison is “not fair”. According to the ASCI spokesperson, “We are writing to the advertiser concerned about the complaints received and are seeking a response. ” In order to make comparatively superior claims, an advertiser has to keep the ollowing ASCI Code in mind, which states that advertisements containing comparisons with other manufacturers or suppliers or with other products, including those where a competitor is named, are permissible in the interests of vigorous competition and public enlightenment, provided: • It is clear what aspects of the advertiser’s product are being compared with what aspects of the competitor’s product. • The subject matter of comparison is not chosen in such a way as to confer an artificial advantage upon the advertiser, or so as to suggest that a better bargain is offered than is truly the case. The comparisons are factual, accurate and capable of substantiation. • There is no likelihood of the consumer being misled as a result of the comparison, whether about the product advertised or that with which it is compared. • The advertisement does not unfairly denigrate, attack or discredit other products, advertisers or advertisements directly or by implication. While no official confirmation could be obtained at the time of filing this report, sources reveal that there are sufficient grounds for HUL to be taken to court over this matter. An HUL spokesperson justifies the commercial, stating, “Rin is a household detergent brand and is used by millions of consumers across India for its promise and delivery of superior whiteness since its launch in 1969. The latest advertisement of Rin brings alive the superior whiteness delivery of Rin, vis-a-vis competing brands in the market. ” Further, HUL adds that this advertisement reinforces the promise to consumers that Rin delivers superior whiteness. This claim is based on laboratory tests done through globally accepted protocols in independent third party laboratories,” the spokesperson adds, to substantiate the claim made in the TVC. Knockout or washout? Unleashing this communication on a long weekend (Eid-e-Milad on Saturday and Holi on Monday) is no coincidence; industry watchers even feel that Indian courts being shut over the weekend has helped Rin’s cause, as anyone taking offence to the commercial could not do much about it during this period. In the meantime, Rin gained with high visibility on TV. Harish Bijoor, CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults, calls this the “putting your finger in competition’s eye” kind of advertising. “Of course, this is a gimmick to create ‘hungama’ or noise. But if the facts are correct and Rin is able to prove them in the buckets of the nation, then its job is done. But I see the chances of that proof as slim,” he says. On the flip side, HUL is considered a “buzz generating, edgy and trend-setting” company, so there isn’t any reason to not tom-tom about its superior products, Bijoor adds. Ask him if the ad is distasteful, and Bijoor shakes his head in the negative. “What was distasteful 20 years ago isn’t now, and the younger generation’s palate of what is acceptable is fast changing,” he muses. And so, Rin’s well-planned strategy – both of taking on competition head on, as well as a weekend release – may not be a bad thing at all. | But there are contrarians like ad guru Alyque Padamsee, CEO, AP Advertising, who, incidentally, is the brain behind Rin’s trademark lightning strikes and whiteness positioning. This is comparative advertising to its extreme,” he declares. To him, this is equivalent to hurling stones at another in a manner that doesn’t say, ‘I am better’, but that ‘You are worse’ – a tonality that hurts both brands. “My guess is, a significant dent in the sales of Rin, much due to Tide, may have led to this blatant, gloves-off approach,” he reflects. Ask him how Tide should react, and Padamsee says, “When people throw stones, it is because they have nothing to say. If I were Tide, I would not launch a counter-communication, which itself should put Rin in its place. The adman is also dissatisfied with the ‘faded shirt versus white shirt’ mnemonic used to bring out Rin’s ‘superiority’. “The consumer is not a moron (as David Ogilvy said), but the advertising agency that uses such tactics, is,” he signs off. | Naresh Gupta, director, strategy and planning, Dentsu Marcom, too, feels the only reason for such an attempt by Rin could be Tide’s entry into its whiteness territory. The fact that it targets Tide Naturals, a variant, and not Tide itself, may just be a ‘by the way’ thought, or a way to avoid some legal problems. To Gupta, the marketer in this case has shown gumption to say ‘I do this, they don’t. ‘ Air-brushing and other such means are, in fact, the coward’s way of doing things. “At the end of it all, it does evoke a chuckle or two,” he shrugs. “This is better than a lot of competitive advertising out there. ” As an analogy, Gupta muses that such an ad is akin to the two marketers picking up the phone and talking down to each other – something that is so interesting in itself, that the lack of a big creative idea (Padamsee’s ‘faded shirt’ grouse) can be forgiven. Brand experts conclude that this could well spark off a trend, to release controversial, capsule-duration advertising campaigns, which do their job by the time they are pulled up. But on the other hand, brands with limited, finite budgets may not have the financial muscle, or the gall, to walk this path. In my personal opinion, Rin chose a wrong way of telling its superiority to the consumer. Last time I saw a direct comparative ad war was between Horlicks and Complan. Horlicks started the direct comparative ad and got a very very aggressive reply from Complan. The current status is that Horlicks stopped the comparative ad and Complan is continuing its aggression against Horlicks. It was an unnecessary move from Horlicks which woke up a laid-back competitor like Complan. I think that in that ad war, Complan won over Horlicks (not in sales terms but in share of noise ). The same thing is going to happen with Rin. It is going to lose this war primarily because there was no need for a direct comparison with Tide atleast in the ads. . If you observe the ad, 22 seconds of the 30 second ad is dedicated to Tide alone. That means in around 75% of the time, the ad talks about Tide. Interestingly the ad even mentions the USP of Tide as “It has fragrance and has whitening property”. Then the rest of the 8 seconds talks about Rin. So if HUL has blasted some 30 lakh in the current promo, 22. 5 lakh of it was spent on promoting Tide. Why should you ever mention your competitor in your ads??? Watching the ad, one homemaker commented ” I never knew Tide and Rin was from the same company, otherwise how can they show these two brands together in the same ad? “. The current campaign lacks any long term objectives. The brand is choosing a short-term path when the issue was a long-term competitive threat. Instead of spending such money on this ad, HUL could have run some serious sales promotional campaigns which could have prompted consumers to opt for Rin. It could have filled the retail outlets with Rin POPs. It could have run retailer campaigns to fill the shelves with Rin rather than Tide. HUL still has a huge distribution reach and strength compared to P&G, it could have won the war hands down had it capitalized on the retailer support alone. If Rin was too worried, it could have bought back Big B as the brand ambassador which could have added punch to the tagline “Chamakte Rahna”. Now the outcome of the ad war will be that HUL will be retrained by ASCII or the Court from further playing the ad. It means that Rin had adapted an unethical means against the competitor which will cause an unwarranted blemish on the brand reputation. Second outcome is that it will encourage Tide to be more aggressive in the market. Tide now has been officially and publically acknowledged as the competitor for Rin. Third outcome is that an ad war will start which will benefit the respective advertising agencies and the media.
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