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Healthy rivalry or outright disparagement? When brands tread the thin line

Marketing experts give us their two cents about comparative advertising versus product disparagement in light of the Domex vs Harpic war

e4m by Medha Jha
Published: Nov 22, 2022 4:23 PM  | 4 min read
Domex versus Harpic

In the world of fast-paced advertising and marketing, each brand wants to beat rivals by any means possible, and in the process, they adopt practices like product disparagement. The tactics involve berating rival brands openly or covertly.

Last month, two brands -- Harpic and Domex -- were in the news. Reckitt approached the High Court claiming that HUL’s advertising campaign for Domex “disparages and denigrates" its product Harpic in its latest ad. Domex claimed that it was better than Reckitt's Harpic in combating odour. 

However, the court held that while it is open for an advertiser to embellish the qualities of its products and its claims, it is not open for him to claim that the goods of his competitors are bad, undesirable or inferior. “Thus, it is not open for an advertiser to say ‘my goods are better than X’s, because X’s are absolutely rubbish’. Puffery and Hyperbole to some extent have an element of untruthfulness,” the court said. 

We asked top marketers for their two cents on the topic and what separates comparative advertisement from product disparagement.  

What constitutes comparative advertising?

Comparative advertising is a great way to involve the consumer in the conversation about a brand. It confers on them the right to check out the claims of one brand over the other. There are some iconic brands that have made leveraged comparative advertising to their benefit. 

Vinod Kunj, Founder and Chief Creative Officer, Thought Blurb Communications, explains: "This used to be a game that rivals played with flair and elegance. Brand joust with each other and make fun of each other. It was never about selling more of the product. It was about building a stronger brand. Think of the Cola Wars, Audi Vs BMW Vs Mercedes, Burger King Vs McDonald's, etc.

"Closer home, we have had some great outings by TOI Vs Hindu, Britannia Vs Parle and so on. In fact, there have been times when rivals got together for a cause; for a common objective. As in the case of McDonald's and Burger King. When McDonald's announced that they will pay part of their proceeds to a children's hospital, Burger King could have just upped the ante. Instead, they decided to say, 'Please get your burger at McDonald's today.' That is maturity in terms of marketing and creating a great brand. In our business, we need to see more of that.” 

According to Ajit Narayan, CMO, Socxo, Comparative or competitive advertising is an age-old practice and nothing new. It is an established practice. As more competitors and direct competitors enter your market, you might choose to compete directly in your advertising as well. This is to get the attention of your audience and keep them researching and understanding your product better.

What is product disparagement?

When the comparative advertisement is misleading or derogatory, it is considered product disparagement.

The Complan vs Horlicks was a case of a direct competitive attack. However, the ruling was neutral: “It noted that the law allows comparative advertising as long as the use of a competitor's mark is 'honest.' The Court said that the test of honest use was an objective test which depends on whether the use is considered honest by members of a reasonable audience. In this context, the failure to point out a competitor's advantages is not necessarily dishonest, and by corollary, highlighting the advantages of the competitor's product by the advertiser in the advertisement is not a dishonest practice either."

Gaurav Arora, Co-Founder, Social Panga tells that there are multiple brands that have benefitted from this. Sebamed got all the desired attention by comparing itself with HUL's soap. It aligned itself with the market leader Dove and immediately became part of the consideration set.  But, they couldn’t get away from this, as of June 22, the Bombay High Court (Mumbai) passed on a ruling stating the Sebamed ads are disparaging and should be stopped. 

Role of the Advertising standards council of India

ASCI is a voluntary self-regulatory organisation of the advertising industry in India. It seeks to ensure that advertisements conform to its Code for Self-Regulation, which requires advertisements to be legal, decent, honest and truthful, and not hazardous or harmful while observing fairness in competition.

But do companies really care about guidelines?

Kunj thinks It's about self-governance. It's better to accept ASCI guidelines gracefully than to be censored by the government. “ASCI has 96% compliance among advertising and design companies, media agencies, and media outlets. This includes Google, FaceBook, and other digital networks. Of course, if you intend to be rude or insensitive, that is your choice, in a free society. At worst, people can deal with it in the Consumer Protection Courts,” he added.

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Publicis’ Maurice Lévy & Arthur Sadoun put the spotlight on HPV-related cancer

The group is leveraging the impact of its ‘annual wishes film’ to drive awareness around the Human Papilloma Virus

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 7, 2022 1:00 PM   |   1 min read

Publicis Groupe

2022 has been a stellar year for Publicis on every front. But rather than celebrate those achievements, the group is leveraging the impact of its Annual Wishes film to drive awareness around the Human Papilloma Virus.

This is a particularly personal theme for Publicis Groupe CEO Arthur Sadoun as he was diagnosed and treated for HPV-related cancer earlier this year.

Joining Maurice and Arthur in this year’s Wishes is a special guest, who also went through HPV-related cancer, to encourage everyone at Publicis, and hopefully beyond, to protect themselves and their loved ones from this preventable illness.

Publicis Groupe’s 2023 Wishes film was created by Le Truc, in partnership with Prodigious.

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Uber & Dentsu Creative India show the reality behind wedding reels

The campaign encourages soon-to-wed couples to take a Rental Health Day together

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 7, 2022 12:11 PM   |   2 min read

Uber Rentals

Uber Rentals in association with Dentsu Creative India has launched its latest campaign for the wedding season, shedding light on the days leading up to the big day. The brand introduced the world to #RentalHealthDay earlier this year with a mockumentary starring Anil Kapoor.

The brand has partnered with two couples whose wedding plans are always the talk of the town - Jasmin Bhasin & Aly Goni and Krishna Mukherjee & Chirag Batliwalla. Starring in their respective films, these reality-packed reels show the couples adding booking an Uber Rentals to their to-do list, so that “shaadi ke chakkar mein city ke jitney chakkar lagein” they don’t have to worry about driving or parking. It is pertinent to note here that both films have been received with a lot of delight and positivity from fans of the two couples, who love the real chemistry between the couples on reel.



wedding reelsTalking about the campaign, Ameya Velankar, Head of Marketing, Uber India and South Asia said, “In our quest to consistently reimagine the way the world moves, we turned our attention to the wedding season. With Uber Rentals as their partner, a bride & groom can avail absolute convenience and the peace of mind that they rightfully deserve. One car for up to 12 hours and the option to add multiple stops on the go - saving them the effort of finding parking spaces or multiple trips. Our films capture the heart-warming moments and fun that couples can unlock when they aren’t hassled by the perils of city driving.”

Ankit Mathur, Creative Director, Dentsu Creative India added, “Year after year, wedding-themed ads on TV and social media show couples looking like they’ve just returned from a vacation when in reality they are exhausted and perhaps even tired of each other! We looked at #RentalHealthDay being a solution for those who can take driving off their to-do list and an opportunity for couples to make the most of their free time - like pestering one another.”

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In 2023, we’ll see more advertisers recognise the value of OTT: Gavin Buxton, Magnite

The Managing Director-Asia of Magnite spoke to e4m about rising consumption of AVOD, the potential of connected TV and more

By Kanchan Srivastava | Dec 6, 2022 8:15 AM   |   7 min read

Buxton

Gavin Buxton, Managing Director, Asia, Magnite, was in India recently to launch a report by the company on OTT trends - ‘India Embraces The Streaming Era’. In a chat with e4m on the sidelines of the launch, Buxton shared his insights on the reasons behind the rising consumption of AVOD, the difference between India and other Asian markets, and the emerging OTT trends that could be the highlight of 2023.

Excerpts:

Your report suggests that OTT audiences have embraced ad-supported content although most of them have shifted from TV to OTT primarily because the latter was ad-free. Is this due to concerns over economic conditions or a behavioural change? 

Audiences are gravitating toward OTT for many reasons, one among them being that consumers enjoy the flexibility and control that streaming provides. According to our report, 66% of consumers prefer to watch streaming over traditional TV, and 75% of streamers are streaming more now than a year ago, with key reasons being greater access to original programming, favourite shows, higher quality content as well as the choice to watch locally produced or international content.

According to our report, 80% prefer to watch ad-supported content rather than pay for an ad-free experience and 73% of streamers are happy to see ads in return for quality programming.

Among streamers in India, the disposition to ad-supported streaming is strong, with free or some ad-supported content preferred by 4 in 5 streamers rather than paying for an ad-free experience (1 in 5).

There is also a clear acceptance of ads by viewers in exchange for quality content, with streamers happy to view up to 8.3 minutes of advertising per hour on paid platforms and 10.7 minutes on free streaming platforms.

As we move towards a more evolved ecosystem, what trends are you expecting in the digital advertising space in 2023? 

OTT adoption has grown rapidly throughout India, with AVOD in particular now actively watched by linear TV and UGC audiences across all demographics. With viewers drawn to its convenience and variety of premium content, OTT promises to continue its upward growth trajectory. In the coming year, I believe we’ll see more advertisers recognizing the value of OTT, and including it in their TV-based media plans as they look to most effectively reach the right audiences and achieve key marketing objectives.

In addition, as we see major global players roll out advertising solutions and/or ad-supported tiers in the coming year, I believe the AVOD model is the way forward and will be increasingly embraced by more content owners.

This shift will bring an increased supply/inventory to the market. The increase in demand for streaming inventory will push more supply out of walled gardens and into the open programmatic ecosystem.

We also expect to see the continued scaling of viewers consuming CTV ‘big screen’ content as more people replace their TVs with smart TVs or through new set-top boxes.

Live streaming will continue to increase as the audience will prefer watching shows that matter to them, and broadcasters will start to activate digital replacement of ads, which will further scale streaming ad opportunities.

How different is the Indian digital advertising space compared to other Asian markets such as China? 

The Indian digital advertising market is one of the fastest growing in the world and the second largest in Asia, due in part to a large middle class that is growing exponentially every year. Ad tech is well positioned for continued rapid growth here, with Magna Global predicting the ad industry will grow 15% by year’s end. Greater accessibility to increasingly affordable streaming devices and cost-effective home broadband plans will only accelerate this growth going forward. As consumers spend more time on OTT devices, ad dollars will continue to follow, further propelling the industry forward.

India is similar to other Asia markets in having a high proportion of viewers watching on their mobile phones, with 88% using their mobile to stream based on our research. The number and variety of streaming platforms for viewers to choose from in India is more than in other Asia markets, which is generally due to the size of the market and the breadth of languages spoken. 

There has been a massive shift from linear TV towards CTV. What opportunities does this disruption offer to advertisers? 

CTV offers greater opportunities to reach audiences. Viewers on streaming platforms are more engaged and more receptive to advertising than those on traditional TV, as evidenced by our latest research study.

Audiences gravitate toward CTV because of the high-quality programming, the lighter ad load, and the prospect of discovering new, exclusive content. This high engagement with the content results in more attentive viewing to both the programming and the advertising.

The full-screen, non-skippable environment of streaming (across mobile and big screen) inherently results in high viewability and high completion rates. It also helps advertisers extend reach, especially among audiences who watch little traditional TV and are difficult to reach and this enables customised creative opportunities.

Which category of brands dominates the CTV space?

Brands across all industries can benefit from advertising on CTV. With CTV, brands are not only buying based on content—they’re buying based on addressable audiences.

Powered by programmatic technology, buyers can reach audiences with precision, and one-to-one targeting across demographics. CTV technology goes beyond linear TV’s index-powered buying, leveraging audience, geographic, contextual, and behavioural data to drive campaign performance.

As audiences flock to streamers, buyers should be adding and ramping up CTV within their media mix. With media companies and advertisers seeing the benefit on bottom lines, they’re seeing CTV for what it truly is: high-performance television with holding power.

Ad waste and fraud are quite common in CTV due to multiple layers of streaming. What should an advertiser do? And what are you as a platform doing to bring measurement protocol? 

Because standards and thresholds vary for measurement vendors, our approach is to work with individual buyers to demonstrate how our inventory can meet their specific needs. This includes the creation of curated private marketplaces.

We enforce baseline content standards across all our publishers, ingesting and honouring the site blocklists advertisers pass to us through their buying platforms, and providing complete transparency on where their campaigns run. In this way, ultimate control rests in the advertiser’s hands.

With our long history and team committed to marketplace quality and brand safety, our exchange gives buyers the ability to transact confidently on high-quality, high-reach inventory.

What ad tech tools are currently being utilized by publishers to target the audience?

Streaming combines the best of linear and digital, offering marketers a high-quality, long-form television environment, plus the precision of digital media. Streaming marketers can reach curated audiences en masse by leveraging first and third-party data. Video streaming captures the holy grail of marketing: timely, personalized messaging to coveted consumers without compromising scale.

As the third-party cookie will soon be deprecated, audience creation is moving from the buy-side to the sell-side, which directly owns the relationship with consumers. Though this shift is new for many publishers, seller first-party data has long been key to addressability in CTV/OTT. While Magnite will continue to support industry IDs such as UID 2.0, a range of identity signals must be used to make as much inventory addressable as possible.

This year, we acquired Carbon, a company with unique tools and expertise to help publishers drive revenue with their first-party audience data, and Nth Party, a start-up developing cryptographic software for secure audience data sharing and analysis. This will help grow Magnite’s audience and identity capabilities and accelerate their integration across our omnichannel offerings. These acquisitions will accelerate our ability to bring audience creation tools and our audience marketplace to the world’s largest publishers and advertisers.

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India's ad revenue to grow 16.8 per cent in 2023: GroupM report

According to the This Year Next Year 2022 Global End of Year Forecast, the ad revenue growth in 2022 will be 15.8 per cent

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 5:39 PM   |   2 min read

GroupM report

GroupM has released its This Year Next Year 2022 Global End of Year Forecast. According to the report, India’s advertising revenue growth forecast for 2022 is 15.8%, with that figure further accelerating to 16.8% in 2023.

“This growth is led by pure-play digital advertising, which accounts for the largest share (48.8%) in 2022 and is expected to continue rising above pre-pandemic levels. Retail media in India is forecast at $551 million in 2022 and is expected to nearly double by 2027,” states the report.

“TV advertising, representing 36% of advertising market share, is expected to grow 10.8% this year and continue growing double digits, driven by strong growth in both traditional and connected TV,” it adds.

On the global numbers, the report states, “we now expect global advertising to grow 5.9% in 2023, behind the IMF’s expectation for global inflation of 6.5% and a downgrade from our 6.4% June estimate. Retail media, one of the fastest growing segments of the advertising industry, is now estimated to reach $110.7 billion dollars in 2022, an upgrade from our September forecast of $101 billion.”

“Television continues its recovery to pre-pandemic levels, albeit more slowly in 2022, with an expected global growth rate of 1.7% (excluding U.S. political advertising). Growth in global OOH this year will amount to 2.2% globally (excluding U.S. political spending), or 18.1% on an excluding-China basis. Audio is projected to grow 3.8% globally in 2022 (excluding U.S. political advertising) and decelerate to 1.3% growth in 2023,” it states further.

“After a brief respite in 2021, traditional print continues its decline of 7.4% in 2022. Print-based media will decline by 3.7% when including digital extensions, which are forecast to make up nearly half of total revenue this year and more than three-quarters of revenue by 2026,” mentioned the report.

 

 

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Tata Soulfull promises a “BetterForYou” Breakfast with its new ad

The multi-media digital campaign has been created and executed by Wondrlab

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 5, 2022 3:54 PM   |   2 min read

Tata Soulfull

Tata Soulfull has launched its first ever digital campaign for the product line, Tata Soulfull Millet Muesli with a new tagline, ‘Better Crunch, Wholesome Munch’.

The 30-second film has a lively, banter style of dialogue. It shows a young health-conscious couple having a playful conversation about their breakfast choice. The advertisement transforms the functional representation of muesli into a quirkier and more interesting rendition that the audience can resonate with. It adopts a completely fresh strategy for millet marketing while concentrating on its target consumers who are seeking better choices in line with their aspirations.

The launch of the campaign also aligns with the UN’s International Year of Millets 2023 which places an emphasis on healthy food choices and snacking. The company is making consistent efforts to make millets part of everyone's diet by constantly innovating and offering consumers a variety of tasty, nutritious, convenient, and modern formats of millet-based products.

Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Prashant Parameswaran, MD & CEO, Tata Soulfull, shared, "Product innovation with health benefits at the core is the driving force of all our Tata Soulfull’s offerings. With the increased millet quotient in the Fruit & Nut variant of Millet Muesli, our mission is to focus on delivering high-quality, wholesome millet-based products in tasty formats to our consumers. People love our millet muesli for its taste and crunchiness and 25% millets-version is a source of protein and is a high fibre breakfast option. Tata Soulfull is at the forefront of reviving the consumption of Indian millets through more distinctive and accessible formats, making them a crunchier go-to option for consumers seeking delicious taste in nutritious products they seek for their healthy lifestyle.”

“We have a strong millet-based product pipeline, which we will continue to build in line with the United Nations' announcement of the International Year of Millets 2023.”, he further added.

The multi-media digital campaign has been created and executed by Wondrlab. Amit Akali, CCO and Co-founder, Wondrlab, added, “Muesli is the default breakfast of choice for younger, affluent lifestyles. So, we set the film amongst one such couple and integrated the product into their relationship and everyday life. The other task we put on ourselves was to do justice to an amazing product.  The difference between Tata Soulful Millet Muesli and ordinary Muesli is actually visible, be it the wholegrains or fruits. Therefore, we focused on visually bringing this difference alive, through beautiful product shots.”

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Apple's new ad is a powerful tribute to users with disabilities

The spot highlights Apple's accessibility features, which can help people with disabilities navigate the world with ease

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 2, 2022 7:27 PM   |   2 min read

apple ad

The term "empowering" has been so often these days that the word has lost its sheen. Yet, no other adjective is half as befitting when it comes to describing the new Apple accessibility ad. Ahead of International Day of Disabled Persons 2022, the tech giant has launched its latest ad titled "The Greatest."

It's a powerful tribute to people who navigate through everyday life in a world designed for their able-bodied counterparts. They do so fearlessly with a little help from Apple's accessibility features on products like iPhone, Apple Watch and Mac.

According to Neilsen's research on 4,50,000 primetime ads, there is no representation of disability unless the product is meant for the disabled. A dismal 1% of ads have adequate representation of disability-related themes.

Media can play a large role in promoting inclusivity by normalising disabilities and changing the narratives around them. Big companies like Apple can drive this change by depicting people with disabilities in an empowering way and not in a sympathetic light.


The ad film hinges on the idea that accessibility is for everyone and shouldn't be limited at any cost. The tech company has released to commemorate the 30th year of International Day of Persons with Disabilities, which falls on December 3.

"At Apple, we believe accessibility is a human right. Innovative features like Door Detection, Sound Recognition, Voice Control and more are designed to let you use your devices in ways that work best for you," says the video description.

The 2:21 minute video showcases everyday instances of people with disabilities of visual, physical, hearing and cognitive nature empowered by Apple accessibility features.

The video is filled with inspiring moments: a woman with no arms wakes up in the morning with instructions for Siri, who helps her open the blinds; A wheelchair-bound man uses voice instructions to click his pictures; A deaf mother knows her child is crying with the help of the Apple watch that alerts her; Another woman uses her legs to operate her phone and to browse the web; A blind man locates his red jacket by moving his iPhone camera around the room. 

The spot steers clear of any mawkish tropes to inspire pity for its subjects. Instead, it shows the many ways in which people with disability lead fulfilling lives, doing things that excite them.

Apple's in-house team has crafted the ad. The video is set to a foot-tapping number by Spinifex Gum titled "I am the greatest." It has vocals by Marliya Choir.

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For those who take their sleep seriously, says campaign for Duroflex Wave Plus

The campaign comprises three digital films

By exchange4media Staff | Dec 3, 2022 8:44 AM   |   2 min read

duroflex

Duroflex has launched Duroflex Wave Plus, an adjustable bed.

To promote the new offering, the company has rolled out three digital films in which they have chosen the true connoisseurs of sleep – the pets.

“Both dogs and cats love to sleep and are often called masters of sleep. The key digital film humorously captures the cat, Fluffy, trying to find the perfect space to sleep around the house while the dog, narrates the entire experience of the cat’s quest. From the laptop, to the carpet, to the top of the washing machine, Fluffy is unsatisfied till the dog takes Fluffy to Duroflex Wave. Here Fluffy’s search for the perfect sleeping space come to an end. The film aptly ends with the line that communicate how Duroflex Wave Plus is the answer to all those who value sleep, ‘Designed for those who take their sleep seriously.’

In the second digital film, the duo are shown being impressed by the Zero Gravity feature of the smart bed where their master is sleeping peacefully after adjusting the bed as per his comfort level. The third film highlights the Anti-Snore mode feature of Duroflex Wave Plus.

Commenting on the new launch, Mohanraj J, Chief Executive Officer, Duroflex said, “We are happy to introduce Duroflex Wave Plus, a product which offers a truly enriching sleep experience. As a brand, we are continually pursuing sleep technologies that will help India sleep better. After introducing research-backed mattresses, we decided it was time to introduce products that will further upgrade the sleep and comfort experience of the people. Our latest offering, Duroflex Wave Plus – adjustable smart bed will help consumers recline into different positions and angles to suit their needs, providing them ultimate comfort and support in whichever position they choose to lie on the bed for - sleeping, sitting or just relax and unwind.”

Talking about the campaign, Paul Dueman, Chief Business Officer, Vector Brand Solutions, said, “The Duroflex Wave sleep system heralds the future of sleep solutions.  The team approached this campaign with the clear understanding that the Wave sleep solution, is the first of its kind and therefore the campaign needed to be delivered in a manner that was also a first of its kind narrative for the category. I am very happy with the output and confident the campaign will deliver on both brand and business objectives.”

 

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