Rin vs Tide

5 May 2017

In the first move of its kind by HUL, homecare brand Rin has openly taken on rival P&6s 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 HI-IL’s Rin and Wheel.

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Tide Naturals was priced significantly ower 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, he 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 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 brand’s name and challenging it head on. That is the main reason behind the media noise about the campaign. P&G India always was a laid back competitor in the FMCG market. Despite having the product portfolio and market strength, it never realized its potential. The company was happy with their minuscule market share in the various categories in the FMCG usiness.

For television viewers, it was hard to miss the now infamous Rin commercial, which was unleashed on Indian television screens on Thursday (February 25, 2010). Perhaps bombardment would be a better word: the high-voltage TVC was supported by a media plan that included primetime slots across all major GECs and news channels, in an effort to deliver maximum impact over the long weekend. The ad shows two mothers waiting at a bus stop for their children, who are returning from school. They spot each other’s shopping baskets – one woman’s basket sports a packet of Rin, while the other has purchased Tide Naturals.

The Tide lady looks proudly at her purchase and brags about Tide’s ‘khushboo aur safedi bhi’ offering When the school bus rounds the corner and drops off the two children, the Tide lady’s boy is wearing a visibly dull shirt, while behind him emerges a boy clad in a spotless white shirt, who runs past the shocked Tide lady, over to his ‘Rin’ mother. To make things cheekier, the boy asks his mother, ‘Aunty chaunk kyun gayi? ‘ (Why is aunty so shocked? ), where the word ‘chaunk’ could easily be a reference to Tide’s punch line, ‘Chaunk gaye? ‘ The voiceover concludes that Rin is ‘behtar’ or superior to

Tide, when it comes to whiteness, and at a ‘chaunkane wala’ price of Rs 25, at that. A super, ‘Issued in the interest of Rin users’, completes the commercial. Comparative advertising is, quite obviously, not a new phenomenon by any standards. Every other brand has dabbled with it at some point, while it is almost formulaic for some categories. However, to make comparisons with competition involves discretion in execution, such as air-brushing or pixelating a competitor’s brand name/pack shot, and most definitely, keeping away from referring to rival brand names.

With this ad, however, Rin seems to have broken every rule in the book. But what may seem like a publicity stunt to some, is, in all probability, a well-thought out strategy on the part of Rin’s makers, Hindustan Unilever (HUL). There are two debatable issues in this advertisement: * The advertisement clearly shows a packet of Tide Naturals, which has green packaging and is a cheaper extension of Tide, which orange packaging) whereas the woman in the commercial says ‘Tide se kahin behatar safedi de Rin’ (Rin gives better whiteness than Tide)- Does this amount to misleading the public as per the Indian Law? At the end of the advertisement, a line is displayed on the bottom stating hat “this claim is based on laboratory tests done through globally accepted protocols in independent third-party laboratories’ and Schematic representation of superior whiteness is based on Whiteness Index test of Rin Vs Tide Naturals as tested by Independent lab” .

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