The August of 2013 saw the beginning of another war in the toothpaste market. Pepsodent, the challenger brand from HUL directly attacked the market leader Colgate with a high profile comparative advertisement. The ads directly compared Pepsodent Germicheck with Colgate Strong Teeth with claim that Pepsodent Germicheck is 130% better in fighting germs than Colgate Strong Teeth.
Watch the ad here : Pepsodent vs Colgate
While this is not the first time that Pepsodent has frontally attacked Colgate.
Pepsodent is a small brand compared to Colgate. According to ET, Pepsodent Germicheck has a market share of 6.4% while Colgate strong teeth has a market share of over 29.4%. For a challenger brand like Pepsodent, fighting the leader directly certainly puts the brand in limelight.
In India, brands do engage in such direct attacks. Law does allow certain level of comparative advertising provided it does not disparage the other brands. Usually the challenged brands take the matter to either ASCI or to the court. But since these take time to settle, the comparative ads may have achieved its objectives.
Most of the time, the challenger brand uses research evidence to support their claims of superiority. In this case, Pepsodent claims that it has 130% more germ attack power than Colgate. The fine print says that Colgate is indexed to 100 %. So is Pepsodent in a sense puffed up the numbers to make it seem extraordinarily superior to Colgate.
It is interesting to note that Pepsodent Germicheck chose to attack Colgate Strong Teeth rather than Colgate Total. Colgate Strong Teeth is the largest brand in the Colgate portfolio but this brand is not claiming any germ killing attribute. Colgate Total is the brand which claims the germ killing attribute. So rather than fighting the Colgate Total, Pepsodent Germicheck decided to launch the attack on Colgate Strong Teeth.
Direct comparative ads, that too against an established market leader most often works for the challenger brand. It has the shock value and the ensuing marketing war gets the challenger brand eyeballs and media spaces especially in social media. Frontal attack using such tactics has its fair share of risks. The market leader often will react with full might which may destroy the challenger brand. In this case , it is the fight between the titans and if there is a war, both will bleed.