The Supreme Court has rejected a special leave petition by HUL against USV in the Sebamed soap advertising campaign.
The consumer goods major had petitioned that the Bombay HC’s impugned order forms an awry precedent by authorising the use of negative statements in the advertising campaign of Sebamed.
Earlier, the Bombay High Court’s division bench dismissed an HUL appeal against the Single Judge’s order that permitted Sebamed to air the TV commercials ‘Filmstars kee nahi, science kee suno’, without any consideration to the RIN detergent bar or any other detergent soap. The Single Judge permitted the Sebamed advertisement naming Dove to continue in its current form. Lux, Pears, and Santoor continue after removing the segment relating to the detergent bar.
In the special leave petition before the SC, HUL argued that Sebamed’s campaign’s sole purpose was to satirise HUL’s time-tested brands, Dove, Lux and Pears by name, as well as by depiction. The petition also said that Sebamed, a cleansing bar is compared with HUL’s toilet soaps and bathing bars (as per approved standards). Dove, Lux and Pears have a different composition as per statutory requirements, the petition said and added that the Division Bench has failed to consider that the regulatory framework under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1950 does not prescribe pH as a standard or statutory requirement.
It added that Sebamed was disparaging and deriding its products solely based on their pH value. Sebamed has chosen to distinguish products on a selective parameter making the consumer believe that pH is the most important and only determinant of quality in a soap that is expressly erroneous and misleading and then presenting this misleading proposition to accuse falsely, disparage HUL’s products.
The petition also appealed that the Sebamed campaign was detrimental to the consumer interest because it pursues to instil fear in the consumer’s psyches that the leading soaps in the market they have been utilising for numerous decades are harmful to the skin.