Procter & Gamble and Hindustan Unilever: Shampoo ad lawsuits dismissed

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

Procter & Gamble and Hindustan Unilever: Shampoo ad lawsuits dismissed

Related tags: Advertising

The Delhi High Court in India has dismissed a number of lawsuits submitted by Procter & Gamble (P&G) and Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) relating to shampoo advertisements.

The arguments

The FMCG heavyweights both filed lawsuits against each other, with both companies stating that the hair care adverts in question were disparaging in nature and detrimental to their individual reputations and goodwill.

P&G first made a complaint to the high court regarding HUL’s Clinic Plus shampoo sachet advertisement. The multinational consumer goods company claimed that the advert indicated that its Head and Shoulders product was ineffective, by subtly yet deceptively showing similarities to the HUL sachet.

On 9th September 2016, the high court decided in favour of P&G, stating that they could prevent HUL from broadcasting their advert.

This was swiftly followed by a counterclaim and HUL reacted by submitting a cross suit relating to a number of P&G advertisements.

In the cross suit, HUL claimed that P&G’s advert compared its Head and Shoulders shampoo to its Clinic Plus brand, and identified it as the superior brand with significant anti-dandruff properties.  HUL argued that as P&G compared Head & Shoulders in this way to its copyrighted Clinic Plus sachets with blue and dark blue curves, it would have a negative impact on its market position.

Brand power

HUL also argued that the comparison between the two hair care products amounted to unfair competition as the leading FMCG had never actively marketed its Clinic Plus brand as an anti-dandruff shampoo, a common associated with the P&G product. 

Following the brand’s new formulation and packaging in July 2012, on its website, HUL states that its Clinic Plus brand has got “three variants under its strong & long range of shampoos – health, antidandruff and naturals”.

The final decision announced on 17th February by Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw, which dismisses the lawsuits puts forward by both P&G and HUL, marks the end of the long-running corporate disagreement by the two leading multinational personal care conglomerates.

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