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Godrej, Whirlpool settle tiff over offending ad

19-July-2004
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Godrej, Whirlpool settle tiff over offending ad

The Mumbai High Court has disposed of a case filed by Godrej & Boyce Mfg Co against Whirlpool of India alleging unethical usage of one of its refrigerator models in its TV commercial, after the latter submitted a modified version of the ‘offending’ commercial and undertook not to use any of Godrej’s product or refrigerator in any of their ad campaigns.

The Court noted that since Whirlpool had ‘modified’ the commercial and withdrawn the offending one, after the two parties had entered a mutually agreed ‘settlement’, the suit ‘‘stands disposed of in accordance with the consent terms.’’

As per the consent terms, Whirlpool undertook ‘‘not to telecast the impugned TV commercial except as the modified version.’’ It also ‘‘undertook not to use any of the plaintiff’s product or refrigerator in any of their ad campaigns.’’

The commercial, created by FCB Ulka, for Whirlpool’s sixth sense technology single-door refrigerators, had shown a fridge, which, according to Godrej ‘‘had identifiers on the facade which give away the brand (as being from the Godrej stable)’’

According to Godrej vice-president (marketing and exports) Shyam Motwani, the ad had shown a Godrej refrigerator ‘‘in a denegrating manner, damaging the reputation and goodwill of the company.’’

When contacted, Whirlpool of India director legal Dinesh Mittal said,‘‘Since Godrej felt a fridge used in the ad resembled their product, we realised their anguish and, in good faith, agreed to modify the shots through computer graphics. A mutual agreement was signed between us after corrective action had been taken.’’ He however claimed that following the consent terms, Godrej had ‘withdrawn’ its case.

Godrej had initially filed a case in the Mumbai High Court in June demanding immediate withdrawal of the offending commercial, its modification and claiming Rs 50 crore in damages. ‘‘Since the ad has been modified, in a spirit of goodwill, we are not pressing for damages,’’ says Mr Motwani.

The High Court had instructed Whirlpool to modify the ad. However, the first modification did not meet with the approval of the plaintiff (GodreJ) and the court had then set a deadline of July 7 for submitting a further modified version of the commercial which met with the approval of the plaintiff.

The court, in its order of July 2, had also instructed Whirlpool not to air the original ad, till the modification was carried out. After Godrej okayed the second modification, the Court passed its order on July 7.

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