Comparative advertising gets thumbs up from advertisers

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 any product."

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 money."

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.

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