Thursday, February 25, 2010 was an eventful day in the history of Indian advertising. It marked the launch of one of the most controversial ads on Indian television: the now-infamous Rin commercial that directly took on - bombarded would be a better word - competitor Tide in a form of comparative advertising that broke all rules. The high-voltage TVC was supported by a media plan that included primetime slots across all major GECs and news channels, in an effort to deliver maximum impact over that long weekend (Eid-e-Milad on Saturday and Holi on Monday).
When the school bus rounds the corner and drops off the two children, the Tide lady's boy is wearing a visibly dull shirt, while behind him emerges a boy clad in a spotless white shirt, who runs past the shocked Tide lady, over to his 'Rin' mother. To make things cheekier, the boy asks his mother, 'Aunty chaunk kyun gayi?' (Why is aunty so shocked?), where the word 'chaunk' could easily be a reference to Tide's punch line, 'Chaunk gaye?' The voiceover concludes that Rin is 'behtar' or superior to Tide, when it comes to whiteness, and at a 'chaunkane wala' price of Rs 25, at that. A super, 'Issued in the interest of Rin users', completes the commercial.
Every other brand has dabbled with comparative advertising at some point. However, to make comparisons with competition involves discretion in execution, such as air-brushing or pixelating a competitor's brand name or pack shot, and most definitely, keeping away from referring to rival brand names. With this ad, however, Rin broke every rule in the book.
According to HUL, the advertisement "reinforced the promise to consumers that Rin delivers superior whiteness, through a claim is based on laboratory tests." ASCI intervention and legal issues had the ad withdrawn from television, but not before it had done the damage. Some feel this was a smart move on part of Rin, to counter Tide Naturals causing a dent in its sales. Others felt it was desperate and distasteful. Brand experts felt that this could well spark off a trend - release controversial, capsule-duration advertising campaigns, which do their job by the time they are pulled up.