MODULE: AD SALES AND MANAGEMENT
DATE: 6TH SEPTEMBER,2010
The tussle between the big two P&G and HUL has been causing ripples in the industry since the launch of its Rin versus Tide comparative advertisement. HUL has been under pressure since quite some time due to the launch of similar products backed by aggressive advertisement by its competitors. The latest conflict appears to have started when P&G introduced its brand Tide washing powder (in orange packaging), which ate into the sales of HUL's Rin washing powder. In the first move of its kind by HUL, homecare brand Rin has openly taken on rival P&Gs Tide, without the typical airbrushing or pixellation to hide the rival brand name on TV and ads on radio.
The current high profile aggressive stand of Rin has a background story. There was a proxy war going on between Rin and Tide since December 2009. In order to retain its market share, in December P&G introduced a low-cost detergent, Tide Natural, claiming in its ads that it provided "whiteness with special fragrance". The product was positioned against HUL's Rin and Wheel. Tide Naturals was priced significantly lower to the Rin. Tide Naturals was launched at Rs 50 per Kg , Rs 10 for 200 gms and Rs 20 for400 gms. Rin was priced at Rs 70 per Kg at that time.
The reduced price of the Tide variant was an immediate threat to Rin. Since Tide already has an established brand equity, Rin was bound to face the heat. Although HUL had another low priced brand Wheel priced at Rs 32/Kg, Tide was not in the same category of Wheel.
Rin had to cut the price to resist the market share erosion. HUL was facing a steady erosion in the market share in most of the categories. In the detergent category itself, the brand faced a market share fall of 2.5% in December 2009. With P&G starting a price war, HUL had to react and it did by cutting the price of Rin by 30% to Rs 50 per Kg.
HUL also reacted to the Tide Natural's price war in a ' Guerrilla Marketing ' way. It took P&G to the court regarding the Tide Natural's advertisement. The contention was that Tide Naturals was giving the impression to the consumers that it contained natural ingredients like Sandal. The court ordered P&G to modify the campaign and P&G had to admit that Tide Naturals did not contain any Natural ingredients.
While P&G opened a war in the price front, HUL retaliated by opening two war fronts. One was the direct comparative ad and other through the court order asking P&G to modify Tide Naturals Ad and to admit that Tide Naturals is not ' Natural'. So we can that HUL retaliated with an aggressive two-pronged strategy. * First, it challenged Tide's claim of whiteness with special fragrance in the Chennai High Court, which passed an order on 25 February 2010 (CS 189/2010), directing P&G to modify the advertisement since it was not really able to substantiate the claim of "whiteness with special fragrance". The court has granted an injunction and directed P&G to respond within three weeks. * Three days later on 28 February, HUL launched an aggressive TV campaign aired during prime time
It was Rin which won the Round 1 of this war. It generated enough Buzz about the brand with all the media talking about the campaign. Rin was also able to neutralize the aggression of P&G to certain extent.
Tide chose not to respond because further fuel to the fight can highlight the fact that Tide Naturals does not contain any 'Natural Ingredients " which may negatively affect the brand's standing in the consumer's mind. So it is better to play the role of a "poor" victim at this point of time.
P&G can celebrate because of the free advertisement it got for Tide Naturals because of the comparative ad of Rin.
Although Indian marketing world have seen lot of comparative ads, the Rin Vs Tide is a rare case of direct comparative ad where the brand has taken the competitor...