MUMBAI: A brand trying to downplay its competition
is nothing new. For years now, one has witnessed a brand
praising itself and claiming to be better than its rival.
What has changed over the years is the method; from
ambush to disguise to in-your-face comparative advertising,
brands have tried it all to catch customers' eye.
And in doing so, many a times, advertisers and brands
have either gone overboard or crossed the line of 'ethics'
to get in trouble with customers, associations or rivals.
The latest to enter the troubled waters was one of the
leading toothpaste brand.
In the TVC, launched earlier this month, HUL's Pepsodent
takes on Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste, Colgate. The
advertisement shows Pepsodent Germicheck claiming to
be 130 per cent superior in terms of germ attack power
over market leader claim of having strong teeth even
after four hours after brushing.
The ad which got more than four lakh views within a
week on Youtube, took the world and especially the social
media by a storm. It took a new turn when after a lull,
Colgate-Palmolive (India) decided to drag Pepsodent
to the Delhi high court.
Are we not mature enough to take comparative advertising?
Can one call it a below the belt marketing? According
to Leo Burnett national creative director KV Sridhar,
"There is nothing wrong in comparative advertising
until and unless the ad is stating facts to the consumers.
A consumer needs to know what is good for them be it
He goes on to say that a TVC should be engaging for
consumers as well as state specifics. When asked about
Colgate dragging Pepsodent in court, Sridhar says, "Fight
here is about superiority of brands. But one shouldn't
forget about the interest of consumers as well."
Similarly, Ogilvy& Mather's NCD Abhijit Avasthi
too feels that if an ad is factual and beneficial to
consumers then there is no harm in naming the competitor.
However, he adds, "Even if we are open to such
form of advertising, it is important for a brand to
also be open to it. Otherwise, such fights will only
become a matter of laugh among others."
Advertising filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar sings in the same
tune and believes that there is no harm in airing such
ads if a brand has enough proof that their ingredients
are better than the one they are claiming to be. "Customers
have a right to know that which brand is better for
them, because they are the ones who are investing their
The advertising world is okay with comparisons so maybe
it is high time for brands too to open their minds and
enter the fight without a veil.