Hardly had the row over the Rin and Tide died down, when comes another ad where a brand has dragged the name of its competitor, this time, a print ad. Smith & Jones has come out with a half-page ad for its Masala Noodles Tadka Maar Ke. The copy, created in-house by Capital Foods, the brand owners of Smith & Jones and Ching’s Secret range of instant noodles, soups, sauces, cooking pastes and baked beans, arrests attention immediately with its colourful graphics, but more importantly, for the lines in the copy in bold, which scream – ‘Maggi Aur Suzi Bhi Bolain…’, which is then followed by the lines, though not in bold, that say: ‘Whether it’s Maggi from Goa, or Lakshmi from Chennai, Sukhwinder from Chandigarh… Ah, This Is Asli Masala!’
The ad very cleverly uses the name of its competitor and has a perfect alibi in the fact that it is the name of a girl and uses other names, too, to illustrate its point further. In fact, one may recall the TV ad of Smith & Jones Masala Noodles, which is an over dramatisation of the popular concept and phrase that Maggi has been using for a long time. The ad shows a boy returning from play and telling him mother ‘Bhookh lagi hai’, to which the mother is about to say ‘Two Minutes’ but instead signals with two fingers, and that’s when a voiceover interrupts and talks about S&J Masala Noodles.
Commenting on the current print ad, Ajaay Gupta, CMD, Capital Foods Ltd, said, “Smith & Jones Masala Noodles Tadka Maar ke is a fun brand. This is a continuation of a series of advertisements on television and in print. We are focused on redefining the ‘Masala Noodles’ category to ‘Masala Tadka Marke’. Smith & Jones Masala and Curry Noodles aims to get a 20 per cent market share of the Indian instant noodles market in the next 6-12 months.”
He added, “We believe we have a superior product that tastes better and more importantly, doesn’t get soggy/ pasty post preparation. Smith & Jones Masala Noodles has also been launched successfully in the US, Canada and Australia with a multimedia campaign targeting the Indian Diaspora.”
The series of print advertisements include an ad earlier, which had played on the popular brother duo – Mukesh aur Anil bhi khaate hai – and then goes on to say cheekily, ‘There’s only one thing Mukesh and Anil agree on along with Rakesh, Sunil…’. The next print ad features the sketch of a size zero figure in bikini and says: ‘Karina Ka Masala Ya - Jab Karina, Sushma, Sunita Ya Puja ka masala has lost its flavour, reach for some asli Masala Tadka Maar Ke’.
ASCI Secretary General Alan Collaco noted that Nestle, the mother brand of Maggi, could complain to the advertising body on unjustifiable use of their brand name. The ASCI Code states clearly: ‘Advertisements shall not make unjustifiable use of the name or initials of any other firm, company or institution, nor take unfair advantage of the goodwill attached to the trademark or symbol of another firm or its product or the goodwill acquired by its advertising campaign’.
Collaco further said that recently Onida, which had used the phrase ‘No Kiya’ in its ad, was asked to pull this ad after a ruling went in favour of Nokia. He said, “This is a tricky issue as the ad uses not just one name, Maggi, (and not Maggie), but names of other women too. But yes, Nestle is free to complain on this.”
When contacted, Hemant Misra, COO, Publicis India, the agency which handles Maggi, reacted by saying, “This name dragging exercise is an ancient thing and brands should not even get into this. It’s ridiculous and juvenile to bring the name of Maggi, which is almost synonymous with noodles in India. In fact, I don’t think this kind of advertising will help Smith & Jones, but will just reinforce the credibility of the brand Maggi, as the name in the copy would be an instant connect with many readers. I don’t think we would like to drag the matter and give it any further prominence by going to ASCI.”