March 22, 2010

Rin ya Tide? Which one washes the whitest?

Not many television viewers had missed the Rin vs Tide advertisement that aired for almost a week recently. And each must have asked themselves one or all of the questions below:

1. Is such direct and explicit comparison legal?
2. Is such comparison good strategy?
3. Is such advertising ethical?

The law is very clear. And it upholds that advertisements cannot compare brands without supportive evidence of concrete and verifiable facts and statistically valid data. If we don't see this advertisement on TV anymore is it because the advertiser did not have the above said data and because the law did take notice of the fact and brought out the whip? This brings us to the second point.

Was this circus a good enough strategy? Or was it juvenile and myopic? Did the advertisement increase numbers for the advertiser and dent numbers for the competitor? Did it tilt the market in favour of the advertiser? Only time and actual numbers at the end of the quarter will tell. But doesn't the whole exercise leave a sour taste in the mouth? Is that good for the brand in the long run? When Pepsi loudly proclaimed "There's nothing official about it", that was good strategy even though it was a frontal attack on Coca Cola without provocation. How does the current scenario even compare? And what would be the fallout?

The purpose of any advertisement is to establish the superiority of a brand and thereby influence consumer choice. But is such overt and explicit comparison morally and ethically correct?

The answer is obvious on all three counts. The advertiser scores in the negative.

Yet, all said and done, the desired outcome might well be met. So post the advertisement, which detergent washes the whitest? Rin or Tide?

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