Unilever angrily went to court, and was largely right at the end of last week. This is apparent from a recent decision by the Rotterdam preliminary relief judge.
The British Unilever is the manufacturer of the detergent brand Robijn, which is the market leader in the Netherlands with a market share of 27 percent. The American Procter & Gamble (P&G) makes Ariel the number two on the market, with a market share of 23 percent.
Since early November, P&G has advertised a commercial for its laundry detergent Ariel All-in-1 pods on a large number of television channels.
According to the commercial, a dose of Ariel removes stains better than a competing liquid detergent. In the picture, an Ariel pod is compared to two measuring cups of the ‘best selling brand of white concentrated liquid laundry detergent’.
Unilever demands ban
A ruling by the Rotterdam preliminary relief judge, which became public on Friday, shows that Unilever has gone to court to forbid P&G from broadcasting the video any longer.
Unilever acknowledged in court that Ariel removes stains better than Ruby, but finds the comparison with two doses misleading. That would suggest that the detergent is at least twice as good, while tests have shown that it is only about 15 percent better.
Slightly better, much more expensive
Unilever points out that the competitor’s detergent is on average more than 50 percent more expensive. Also by concealing that price difference, the commercial would create a wrong image.
Unilever demanded that P&G immediately stop broadcasting the commercial, as well as a ban on future comparative commercials.
Furthermore, the maker of Robijn wanted P&G to post a correction on its own websites, which also clearly points out the price difference between the two detergents.
Commercial is misleading
The Rotterdam preliminary relief judge ruled on Thursday that P&G’s commercial for Ariel is indeed misleading, and forbids the detergent maker from broadcasting the video any longer.
However, the court rejected the broader ban on comparisons in future commercials and the rectification demanded by Unilever.
Although the judge did not grant all the demands, Unilever says it is happy. “We are satisfied with the ruling in which Unilever was successful in the lawsuit over an Ariel detergent advertisement with misleading information,” said spokeswoman Marlous den Bieman of the food and soap giant.
Procter & Gamble has not yet responded to a request for comment.