28 complaints filed with ASCI against our ads in FY21: HUL
In its FY21 annual report, the company also reiterated its stand on inclusivity and advertising for products targeted at children
FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever has disclosed that 28 complaints were filed against its ads with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) during the fiscal year 2020-21. The company also revealed that 67 consumer cases are pending against it.
HUL noted that it supports industry self-regulation and the development of self-regulatory codes for all its marketing and advertising activities and applies these codes across its businesses. The company is one of the founding members of ASCI, a self-regulatory body that has developed principles and codes in the area of advertising and marketing.
"During the year, 28 complaints were filed with ASCI against advertisements made by the company. The company has certain legal cases, including those relating to consumer/customer disputes. At the end of the year, there were 67 consumer cases pending," the company said in its FY21 annual report.
Guidance from Unilever on marketing, media buying
The company said that it continuously imports technology from Unilever under the Technical Collaboration Agreement (TCA), which is fully absorbed. HUL also receives sustained support and guidance from Unilever to drive functional excellence in marketing, supply management, media buying, and IT, among others.
HUL also said that it has significantly enhanced brand propositions and marketing investments to increase adoption in under-penetrated categories.
"As on outcome of Covid-19, there has been an upswing in categories like health, hygiene, and nutrition. We have a strong pipeline of relevant innovations and are staying close to consumers by proactively spotting consumer insights & capturing potential trends to adapt to the emerging demand patterns in the short term and prepare for any structural changes in the medium term. We are also focused on making brands aspirational and driving premiumisation across the breadth of the product portfolio."
Leveraging medical marketing through GSK
The company noted that it continues to collaborate with GSK under the consignment selling model to accelerate the growth momentum of the Over the Counter (OTC) – Oral Health Care (OH) business and leverage on HUL’s Go-To-Market capabilities.
The merger, it said, also brought with it a great opportunity for the HUL business to leverage the learnings of medical marketing and engaging with the chemist channel for the larger HUL portfolio.
In April 2020, HUL had completed the merger deal with GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Limited (GSKCH). The deal brought brands like Boost, Maltova, and Viva under its umbrella.
Focus on omnichannel space
HUL said it has created teams exclusively to focus on niche aspects such as search and discoverability in the omnichannel space, acquiring new capabilities like performance marketing and visibility optimisation across platforms and partners in this fast-growing and highly competitive arena. "The company continues to share this expertise and help channel partners evolve and adapt to suit the changing shopping behaviour insights emerging from our rich data ecosystem," HUL said in its annual report.
Responsible advertising for products targeted at children below 12
In addition to national laws and self-regulatory codes in India, the company said that it also applies Unilever’s principles to the marketing and advertising of all its food and beverage products (updated in February 2020) directed at children (below 12 years).
These principles also require that marketing practices do not convey misleading messages. Further, they should also not undermine parental influence. Advertisements always show parents as gatekeepers to the product being consumed. The marketing also takes the case not to encourage ‘pester power’.
The company stated that it does not use broadcast or print media personalities in a way that obscures the distinction between programme or editorial content or commercial promotion.
It added that it also does not direct any Marketing Communications to children under 12 years of age in traditional media like TV and radio, and to under 13 in social media. The principles also envisage not using influencers who are under the age of 12.
HUL is also a signatory of the India Policy on Marketing Communications to Children. The company has pledged to advertise products to children under the age of 12 that meet common ‘Food & Beverage Alliance of India’ nutrition criteria and/or Unilever Highest Nutrition Standards. "Where differences in criteria exist, Unilever will apply the strictest criteria across all Marketing Communications directed to children," it asserted/
Challenging stereotypes through advertising
HUL pointed out that it has removed the word ‘normal’ from advertising and packaging across its Beauty & Personal Care portfolio. As part of its new Positive Beauty vision, the company stated that it aims to usher in a new era of beauty that is inclusive, equitable and sustainable.
In Skin Care, having successfully changed the proposition of Fair & Lovely to ‘HD Glow’ at the time of its relaunch in 2019, the company said that it took the decisive and logical step towards inclusive beauty by renaming this iconic brand to Glow & Lovely in 2020. This was accompanied by purposeful communication, and massive media outreach to ensure each consumer of the brand is touched.
"Furthering our commitment towards promoting inclusion, Dove through its #StopTheBeautyTest campaign is challenging the societal stereotypes and urging people to adopt a more inclusive lens of beauty for women," HUL stated.
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