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HLL courts a ‘fair’ trial with ad

01-December-2004
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HLL courts a ‘fair’ trial with ad

All’s not ‘fair’ in marketing wars. Hindustan Lever Ltd (HLL), the FMCG major, seems to have courted trouble with its recent advertisement for Fair & Lovely anti-marks cream, that screams “The TRUTH (Not Just Promise)”.

The comparative product advertisement claims that ‘only Fair & Lovely Anti-marks totally removes one or more marks in 84% of all users’, implying that Nomarks cream and Garnier Light anti-marks+fairness concentrate, the products of Ozone Ayurvedics and L’Oreal India, respectively, fail to do so.

Taking offense to the use of its brand name, Ozone Ayurvedics managing director SC Sehgal is spewing fire: “It’s shocking and disgraceful on the part of a company of HLL’s stature to resort to such unethical tactics.”

Not surprisingly, the company is planning to drag HLL to court for not providing a true picture of the facts.

“We plan to refer the advertisement to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and will also take legal action against HLL,” Mr Sehgal said.

L’Oreal India, the French cosmetics major, which owns the Garnier Light brand, is, however, keeping its cards close to its chest.

When contacted by FE, Garnier India general manager Philippe Raffray said: “Whatever action we will take is confidential. I am not prepared to discuss this at the moment.” He however added that the company stands by its product.

“They (HLL) have to take the responsibility for what they say. As for us, we stand by our product,” Mr Raffray said.

Interestingly, all the three parties are quoting their respective internal studies to substantiate the ‘effectiveness’ of their respective products. While HLL has quoted a Hindustan Lever Research Centre (HLRC) study, which it claims in the ad has been validated by independent dermatologists, Ozone’s Mr Sehgal pooh poohs HLL’s study saying that it’s very subjective and the sample size at 30 women is too small.

Garnier’s Mr Raffray, also claims that the company had conducted an independent test done by TNS on 135 Indian women for its anti-marks cream which proved that 95% of its respondents had become fairer and 93% women saw a reduction in blemishes.

Industry sources say that the underlying motive behind the HLL strategy is to dislodge its competition strength in the fairness cream category.

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