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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  1. Also assumes your competition is only the other mentioned. Is that the case ?

  2. Anonymous12:18 PM

    I feel Comparative advertising is very much required in a category like this atleast once in a while.Many competitors, Many segments, confused audience hence it is required.. on one end you could see henko talking about its anti bacterial property, Mr.white talking about its new fragrance surf excel dag acha hain and stuff..When a brand says "I am better than my competitor" it grabs attention and will be talked about. and this is clearly to increase the sales and nothing else...the more the controversy the merrier for the brands...nobody can quantify advertising...but for sure advertising like this will create a buzz..Amul macho??(ad pulled out but sales were high) job done

  3. Anonymous2:35 PM

    after watching the ad,i taught that tide company merged with rin.

  4. Excellent post - great analysis.

  5. Hi,

    I think HUL tried to hit at Tide Naturals rather than Tide.. But, It isn't clear in its communication that is leading to the confusion that it is hitting on tide.. I think its just trying to protect its market share by not allowing customers to move towards Tide Naturals thinking they are getting quality of Tide at a lower price..

    And I doubt if P&G would have a logical point to sue HUL for huge amounts with note in ads like "Issued in interest of Rin Users", " Schematic representation of superior whiteness is based on Whiteness Index test of Rin Vs Tide Naturals as tested by Independent lab"...

    Ur comments are welcome..

  6. Pallav Pancholi11:22 PM

    i am regulary following your blogs.... they are awesome and cary in depth analysis of brands... your blogs are very helpfull to young managers... thanks for that....
    these issues releted with the ad will have negative impact on rin...
    1. this is unethical
    2. rin is unnecesserily promoting tide
    3. there is no mistake of the ad agency..... the management gave the very wrong reqirenment to the agency.... (it seems so after seeing the ad )
    4.this ad will give birth to a battle in which tide may come with heavy weapons
    5.a gud analyst, may, after seeing the ad for the first time will say for rin..... wooh what a crap they are doing???
    all points when taken together will have a negative impact on rin....
    Pallav Pancholi
    FMS Udaipur

  7. it would also be interesting to see how other competitors respond to this ruckus ...

    they will certainly feel left out if these two products capture the limelight ...

    so its also interesting to see what is happening in other camps ...

  8. @anand, very valid point. they are unnecessarily giving importance to tide
    @simran thanks for the kind words
    @sajja according to ASCII code, the ad violates the code of conduct. hence may have to be taken out
    @pallav thanks for ur view. there is so much noise on the web abt the ad, so Rin had achieved some mileage out of this noise
    @Divay, true also waiting for tide's response. reports suggest that there may not be a counter- attack

  9. Mr. Harish can u please tell which regulation of ASCI Code does HUL violates?

  10. @Asheesh the code is this
    "The advertisement does not unfairly denigrate, attack or discredit other products, advertisers or advertisements directly or by implication.". It is my judgement that having better whitening property is very subjective and hence it is unfair to discredit tide

  11. This is some kind of marketting as I know, the same company will produce in the same model car, like Toyota land Cruiser & Lexus... If you see this two car only the diffrence is symbol, but cost of lexus is more than cruiser, so every body is buying that Land Cruiser, So that car was hit, but in Japan this company owner is same in diffrent name.

    If I am wrong please correct me.

  12. Anonymous6:49 PM

    What people here are talking about is logic and unethical practices of using media...Even Naman bought out a point saying...the add mostly is talking about tide ... well these things are true when u talk logic, senses, rules, regulations and ethics...but lets see the ad’s effectiveness..the add is targeting common house hold women...who barely know what are the rules of the ad world , so ad wont give a negative picture of unethical practice by rin to them …we on the other hand know the rules so at once created a negative feel for rin and started criticizing its technique and practice, even said the add is not made right….but people, here in this ad direct comparison that slaps tide in very easy understandable language is very reaching to its own true consumer group…Also on Naman’s comment that it is a short term strategy for a long term issue and hey might loose the war, give it a second thought ,don’t u think people at HUL are aware of the litigation and consequences.. Rin which was silent for quite some time now suddenly wakes up and does this campaign must have a given a long thought before it resorted to this campaign.
    As for revamping it’s sales channel, it relates to it marketing and sales. But through this ad it’s focusing on brand positing and consumer education of its brand.
    Lets see the add now. It uses softest point of the house hold women i.e school going kid. Very connecting and relative to the life. Then in soft talk says you are good but I’m better. No confusion, no indirect comment, nobody throwing a old packet with similar design of packet. In a direct word ‘ I’m better than you’
    Ad is mostly till an art it uses science as tool.

  13. Harish, the advertisement nowhere denigrate, attack or discredit Tide in any manner. If you read the judgement in Ramchandran case and the recent Anchor case, mere puffing is not wrong even though it is subjective. Every competitor has freedom of expression to say about his product, but in doing so he cannot say that other product is bad, which HUL has not done at all. In fact if you see first 15 Seconds of the add goes on to describe the quality of the Tide as well. In order to determine disparagement the impact on the consumer has to be seen. In my view, this advertisement has open the choice to consumers to decide and in no way its harm or disparage Tide.

  14. @ Mr.Harish: I think it says "unfairly denigrate or discredit",... But, till the time HUL can show it's case of substantial lab tests on whitening property Vs Tide Naturals they might not face much of a problem except to replace the word Tide with Tide Naturals in the voiceover...

  15. Abhishek Agarwal10:17 PM

    i disagree with most of you.
    firstly the blog takes only one side of the story.
    and has a preset mind that the advt is a failure
    second it believes that HUL is incompetent...well! HUL has made full preparation become starting the campaign
    and they have covered itself well.they back themselves on a survey and the result is based on the fact from the survey
    enough to keep the court case pending for some time
    and moreover they knew they wud be going to they wud have calculated all the pros and cons
    and the cost-benefit analysis was already done
    now look at the number of times that advt had been played
    and the baseline is " Rin is better than Ariel" and the audience wud catch this line sooner or later

  16. Rajiv1:00 AM

    Though HUL came over P&G harshly by unleashing a major offensive with its latest Rin commercial, which directly hits out at P&G’s Tide Naturals detergent,in India comparative advertising is not considered unethical or illegal unless the brand can substantiate its argument with proper data or proof.


  18. I feel that we should take it from the customer view point. If the house wives do not understand the whole point.. Whats the use? As sir said, there are quite a lot of people who still think that rin and tide come from the same brand.. At least now!! I would say comparative ads are effective, but for a mature target segment... (Especially when it is backed with facts and figures).... audi's comparative ads are excellent ones... the target group can correlate themselves with the ad.... I feel that there is no point in making noise when it does not reach the right ear or in the right manner

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