Monday, March 01, 2010

Brand Update : Rin Vs Tide

Rin Strikes Again. But for the better or worse ?

Last day, I saw the latest ad for Rin , a comparative ad directly against the competitor Tide. It was a shocker.

Watch the ad here : Rin Vs Tide

This is the first time that HUL has directly compared Tide with Rin. The ad even have the tagline " Rin offers better whiteness than Tide".

According to ET, P&G has took HUL to court over this ad. The ad was timed to coincide with the long weekend so that HUL could play the ad before the Court hearing.

HUL is currently under severe pressure from its aggressive competitors. The market share of most of HUL brands has come down drastically over the last few years. The brands are facing pressure at all price points. Along with the domestic pressure, HUL is facing the heat from the parent Unilever. The Indian operations is under direct scrutiny by the Unilever CEO Paul Polman.

Last year, HUL tried to restructure its brand portfolio and increased the adspend on most of the core brands. But it could not arrest the decline of the shares of some key brands to the competitors like P&G , Godrej and ITC.

This desperation has clearly manifested in the latest ad for Rin. What on earth do a brand like Rin get into a direct comparative spat with its competitor. The ET report mentions that the ad was created because HUL executives feel that Tide is slowly neutralizing the whiteness (point of difference) USP of Rin. Hence Rin is trying to tell the consumers that it has more whitening property than Tide using a direct comparison.

In my personal opinion, Rin chose a wrong way of telling its superiority to the consumer . Last time I saw a direct comparative ad war was between Horlicks and Complan. Horlicks started the direct comparative ad and got a very very aggressive reply from Complan. The current status is that Horlicks stopped the comparative ad and Complan is continuing its aggression against Horlicks. It was an unnecessary move from Horlicks which woke up a laid-back competitor like Complan. I think that in that ad war, Complan won over Horlicks ( not in sales terms but in share of noise ).

The same thing is going to happen with Rin. It is going to lose this war primarily because there was no need for a direct comparison with Tide atleast in the ads. . If you observe the ad, 22 seconds of the 30 second ad is dedicated to Tide alone. That means in around 75% of the time, the ad talks about Tide. Interestingly the ad even mentions the USP of Tide as " It has fragrance and has whitening property". Then the rest of the 8 seconds talks about Rin. So if HUL has blasted some 30 lakh in the current promo, 22.5 lakh of it was spent on promoting Tide. Why should you ever mention your competitor in your ads ???

Watching the ad, one homemaker commented " I never knew Tide and Rin was from the same company, otherwise how can they show these two brands together in the same ad ? " .

The current campaign lacks any long term objectives. The brand is chosing a short-term path when the issue was a long-term competitive threat.Instead of spending such money on this crap ad, HUL could have run some serious sales promotional campaigns which could have prompted consumers to opt for Rin . It could have filled the retail outlets with Rin POPs. It could have run retailer campaigns to fill the shelves with Rin rather than Tide. HUL still has a huge distribution reach and strength compared to P&G, it could have won the war hands down had it capitalized on the retailer support alone. If Rin was too worried, it could have bought back Big B as the brand ambassador which could have added punch to the tagline " Chamakte Rahna".

Now the outcome of the ad war will be that HUL will be retrained by ASCII or the Court from further playing the ad . It means that Rin had adapted an unethical means against the competitor which will cause an unwarranted blemish on the brand reputation. Second outcome is that it will encourage Tide to be more aggressive in the market. Tide now has been officially and publically acknowledged as the competitor for Rin. Third outcome is that an ad war will start which will benefit the respective advertising agencies and the media.

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