India: The Battle Of Rin vs. Tide

Screenshot courtesy Vivek Bhatia

Screenshot from video, courtesy Vivek Bhatia

In India a recent advertisement on TV openly comparing between rival detergent brands caused an uproar in the blogosphere with bloggers discussing about rivalry, fair competition and ethics.

Asstha Jain at Add2Ad blog informs:

On Friday (beginning of weekend), all eyes were widened to see an ad from Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) for their brand Rin in which they do more than direct comparison with their competitor Proctor & Gamble (P&G) brand Tide (Tide Natural rather). The ad not only speak the product attributes of Tide which they claim but also hit their marketing theme. [..] The rivalry between these two brands is on since long when HUL reduced its price by 10-15% percent when Tide was offering 20% extra washing powder.

Rin Detergent vs. Tide Naturals. Video uploaded by YouTube user Kunaljha123:

Gupta Infomedia explains:

The voiceover “Tide se kahin behtar safedi de Rin (Rin washes much whiter than Tide)” leaves nothing to imagination. It's war, open and direct. Barring rare exceptions, fast moving consumer goods brands have stayed away from direct hits at competing brands.

Vivek Bhatia at Markadising Zone notes:

It’s the first time in India that competing brands have been named rather than pixilated (as they usually are) in a TV commercial.

Vivek provides updates as the battle has moved to court:

HUL claims that the Rin commercial is in line of advertising regulations laid by the industry. HUL terms its claim to be factual, accurate and substantiated based on laboratory tests done through globally accepted protocols in independent third party laboratories. ASCI has even issued a notice to HUL to substantiate its claim.

P&G has also moved to High court against the disparaging advertisement of HUL's Rin. Prior to this, HUL had challenged P&G's claim in its advertisement on Tide Natural. On being directed by ASCI, P&G seems to have modified its advertisement.

Anoop Vijayan thinks that this advertisement violated all norms of healthy competition. Charu questions:

Is it healthy to throw mud at the competitor to state your point and increase the sales? Does these advertisements really affect the buying pattern of the public?

However, Frankie thinks that the ad was a free publicity for P&G by HUL. Ashok at Doing Jalsa And Showing Jilpa takes a hilarious look at this issue noting that “controversy is the new advertising”.

Harish Bijoor at Indian Marketing Trends notices that the Indian brands are getting back to the good old basics. He opines that the current piece of Rin advertising is very clear in its visual language of comparison:

Hey! This is old hat. This kind of comparative advertising used to work in the good old days when consumers sat up and made purchase decisions basis product attributes and product delivery norms in terms of solutions. Good scent and whiteness are rather both generic to the category. How much ever anyone shouts in messaging such as this, consumers are going to be yawning and saying what next. Consumers hate this kind of relapse into age-old advertising formats that have the same old message of the sixties with the creative ability and excellence of production standards of the 2000’s staring back at them. Wake up and smell the change.

The battles between brands are growing intense in India which is evident from the most famous cola wars in the past decade to the recent Onida vs Nokia advertisement war. Sumathi Chandrashekaran at Spicy IP talks about another battle between kitchen cleaner brands ‘Mr Muscle Kitchen Cleaner’ and ‘CIF Cream’, which was settled in court.

So it remains to be seen how Indian consumers deal with these comparative ads. They need to be aware of what competitive advertising can do.


  • Mohd Gaus Alam

    I have also seen the ad reflect on tv. these are all stupidity, if you want to sell your product why you are debranding to others. You make your own niche. Its none other than Manmohan Singh PM and LK Advani locks their horns.
    Today this is called a biggest marketing and sales strategy.
    Neither ad co. nor brands have any creative moto to do a brands which directly hit and blow their sales scale. 75% ad are throwing nonsence theme today to increase the sale. If you really want to see yourself on top use OTIF.

  • Vinod

    As a Loyal RIN brand customer for decades- I am shocked and disappointed at the cheap and unethical take that RIN committed against Tide.

    I have lost the confidence I once had on this brand and would think twice before buying any of RIN products

    Ideally it speaks of insecurity of one brand if it has to take digs at its competitors like this

    Same sentiments for the Onida ad —- another trusty brand loosing its appeal in my eyes.

  • Praveen Moolchandani

    Although comparative advertisement should have its limits, its not wrong considering the fact that today’s audiences/consumers require real info and not blurred comparisons between brands. The RIN ad clearly rips off the clutter and does a great job. The maharaja era advertisement laws in India require a change. Moreover, not many Indians feel good about foreign brands like Tide entering India and posing a threat to Indian companies. Shameful Indian PM Manmohan Singh should do something about it. Globalization doesnt mean loosing your identity to privatization and foreign competition. I am happy Rin slapped Tide hard.

  • Kevo Banvyo

    Seems like Praveen lives in Jurasic Park. He says Tide is foreign brand. But he doesn’t know that Rin brand is trade mark of Unilever which is an Anglo Saxon Company.

  • The Rin people must be having some factual report from a third party laboratory authority on that basis only they have aired this ad because it is forsure that Tide will going to sue Rin for its goodwill loss . After all its a controversial advertising to get noticed, gain publicity and increase sales .

  • Kailash

    Plz stop using HUL Brand , Company Ethices & Intigrety is Going down , I Beleve that this is real punishment given by Indian. HUL also remove ” Hindusthan” from his company name , Its not Indian company.

  • Satya

    its unethical way of prmoting the brand… HUL can’t compare thir product only on laboratory report basis… i feel that HUL is goin to get big punishment

    • kk

      Its like tit for tat but late. The recent ad is more concerned about the truthfulness towards the consumer. tide is basically cheating the customers through showing it has lemon, chandan.but really it’s all about cheating the customers and selling the product. that should be punishable.
      Really Rin is much better I hv used then saying.

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