Rin rides a new tide

By Antara Ghosal , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | April 08, 2010
The Rin-Tide controversy takes a further step as HUL plans to put its money where its mouth is

The detergent war enters a new episode with Hindustan Unilever (HUL) launching its Rin Safedi ki Challenge campaign. The brand is running a commercial and a separate website featuring the challenge.

In the campaign, the brand has announced Rs 1 crore prize money if it can be proved that any other detergent provides more whiteness than Rin. Unlike last time, Rin has masked its competitor in this campaign.

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When contacted by afaqs!, a HUL spokesperson says, "We firmly believe that Rin delivers superior whiteness vis--vis competing brands in the market. The Rs 1 crore challenge advertising campaign brings alive Rin's superior value proposition in a distinct and engaging manner. The challenge is based on established testing protocols."

To understand the brand's recent move, one needs to go back in time says Anand Halve, director, chlorophyll. According to him, it all started in early February when Paul Polman, chief executive officer, Unilever, while announcing the company's results for the fourth quarter and for all of 2009, referred to the Indian firm as an underperformer. This was followed by HUL's high profile direct attack on P&G's Tide. P&G took the matter to the Calcutta High Court, after which the advertisement was discontinued. The present campaign takes the story forward from there.

Halve pins it down as the brand's knee jerk reaction to the CEO's comment, following which, he feels, the brand is trying out very possible way to become the talk of the town.

Interestingly, though the rival brand has been masked in current TVC, the same models have been used so that the consumers can identify with the previous commercial.

Rin's strategy, believes Vinay Kanchan, an independent strategic consultant, has been one of 'conscious confrontation' with Tide. Using the enhanced salience gained by its present initiatives, he says that it is trying to elevate itself both in terms of imagery and eventually, in terms of increased market share.

The new campaign is an extension of the earlier one and tries to convey the confidence in the brand's promise by offering a huge amount. It reinforces Rin's claim of providing the best whitening of clothes. "The activity gives the brand a very confident air. Rin would like to steal some thunder away from Tide. With its earlier ad and this activity, it is aiming to hit consumers hard and get back on top of the shopping list. A recognised face, used well, helps the brand and the message cuts through," says Shivanand 'Doc' Mohanty, national creative director, Dentsu Communications.

Seconding Doc's opinion, Jagdeep Kapoor, chairperson, Samsika Marketing Consultants adds that with this campaign, HUL is actually putting money where its mouth is. "It's an announcement of credibility," he states. Adding a dash of humour to the entire episode, he quips, "You need aggression to make your clothes white and to gain market share - Rin has to fight."

The new ad resembles the Rs 1 crore purity challenge campaign of HUL's Pureit water purifier to the extent that the numerical value of the reward is the same magic figure. It also has the same 'in your face' confident approach.

"Perhaps there was a transfer of learning within the group, so what was successful in one category is now being tried out in another. It must be said though that here, the role of Rin is a lot more focused in terms of who exactly it is alluding to in this challenge. The past communication surely plays a role in making that much clear," explains Kanchan.

Apart from this, there is also a layer of celebrity power in the form Bollywood actor Kajol, who lends an additional punch to the mix. The association is expected to give the campaign authenticity and attract viewers.

"So, Rin is offering a staggering Rs 1 crore, the charisma of Kajol, a promise of coming to our hometown in person - doesn't the brand sound like a desperate cook putting every ingredient in the cooking pot and hoping it will make a great dish?" grins Halve.

As HUL breathes fire, P&G isn't sitting idle either. It is offering 25 per cent extra in the newly launched Tide Naturals (200 gm and 500 gm packs), without increasing the price in the first week of March. It has also announced its plans to more than double the production of Tide.

As things stand, it seems like the beginning of a brand 'Mahabharata' and perhaps more dirty linen will be washed in public in the future.