Ice-cream ad war: Amul to challenge high court order

Brand experts feel that court battles over ads seldom dent any brand
The cold war between ice-creams and frozen desserts is set to get hotter, with the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), owner of brand Amul, planning to challenge a Bombay High Court order against its advertisements.

On Friday, the single-judge bench of Justice S J Kathawalla granted a plea by Hindustan Unilever, makers of Kwality Walls ice creams and frozen desserts, for an injunction against rival Amul’s advertisements. The commercials allegedly disparaged Kwality frozen desserts, claiming ice-creams contained milk fat while frozen desserts had vanaspati (vegetable oil). 

Although Amul has stopped airing the controversial ads, the GCMMF is, however, not willing to lay down arms yet. 

Managing Director R S Sodhi said it was planning to challenge the high court order in a division bench, and simultaneously also work on another campaign that brings out the differences between ice-creams and frozen desserts. 

“We plan to challenge this order in a division bench. We shall also work on another campaign to highlight the differences between ice-creams and frozen desserts. We do not think our campaign was disparaging in any way for Kwality Walls,” he told Business Standard. 

Sodhi felt that the adverse judgment did not harm the brand equity of Amul ice-creams, nor alter consumer perception. “It is up to the consumer to decide what they want to consume — ice-creams or frozen desserts. We are only trying to help them make an educated choice,” he said. 

The GCMMF started airing the ads since March 4; they also ran a print campaign in all leading dailies. 

The ad campaign highlighted ingredients that go into making ice-creams and frozen desserts. According to some sources, the tone of the ad seemed to suggest that ice-creams were healthier. 

HUL had taken the matter to court on March 21, claiming that it was misleading and disparaged its products. 

Sudhir Sitapati, executive director, refreshments, HUL, had said, “We are pleased that the Honorable Bombay High Court while injuncting Amul’s advertisement has agreed with HUL’s contention that Amul’s ad is false, misleads consumers and disparages frozen desserts. Kwality Wall’s products are made with milk/milk solids and do not contain vanaspati.”

Brand experts feel that court battles over ads seldom dent any brand. 

Veteran ad-man Ambi Parameswaran, founder of and former CEO of FCB Ulka said, “It is more of an ego-fight between brands. Consumers at the end of the day are concerned more about the value a brand offers and do not usually get affected by court battles over advertisements.” 

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