Sebamed gets relief from Bombay HC in ad war with Hindustan Unilever

Sebamed has also been asked to modify the words 'safe and 'not safe' to 'ideal' and 'not ideal' in some ads that use a scale to define the pH value of soaps.
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday permitted German personal care company Sebamed to continue with its advertising campaign for its cleansing bar, giving relief to the latter. The ads were in the spotlight for naming and showing rival Hindustan Unilever's (HUL's) brands Lux, Dove, Rin and Pears to be high on pH value.

HUL had obtained an interim order last week, restraining Sebamed from airing or publishing the ads. Setting aside the stay order, Justice BP Colabawala, in whose court the matter was heard, said that no reference to Rin detergent bar could be made in the campaign.

"As far as the advertisement comparing Sebamed cleansing bar to Dove soap is concerned, the defendant (Sebamed) is permitted to air the advertisement in its current form. In the advertisements comparing Pears and Lux to Sebamed cleansing bar respectively, no reference shall be made to Rin detergent bar or any other detergent soap," the order, uploaded on the Bombay High Court website, said.

"We have always said that the campaign was not intended to denigrate a competitor's brand or brands," said Shashi Ranjan, country head, Sebamed India. "Our initiative has been to build awareness about the right pH value for the skin. We have always maintained that we have the scientific facts to back our claims," he said.

In response to a mail, an HUL spokesperson said, “Sebamed has been restrained from disparaging our products Pears and Lux, and comparing them with detergent soaps. We are reviewing the Hon’ble High Court’s order, and will explore all options in the interest of our consumers.”

Sebamed has also been asked to modify the words 'safe and 'not safe' to 'ideal' and 'not ideal' in some ads that use a scale to define the pH value of soaps.  For the uninitiated, pH is a measure of how acidic a product is. The lower the pH value, the better it is for the skin.

Sebamed had first begun its soap campaign on January 8, using the entire weekend to draw comparisons between the pH value of its cleansing bar and HUL brands. It had also named and showed Santoor, a popular soap from Wipro Consumer Care, in the campaign.

A second round of ads by Sebamed, which have now been published in national dailies, has taken the pH campaign to the next level, asking consumers to call or register for free pH test kits.

Sebamed has claimed all along that its cleansing bar has a pH value of 5.5, considered safe for the skin.

HUL had said earlier that Sebamed's ads were misleading consumers on soap efficacy.


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