Aishwarya Ramesh

Dabur's latest regional ad compares honey to 24k gold

The ad features a bride resplendent with jewelry and an unlikely comparison…

Dabur honey's latest telugu ad features a bride decked up in resplendent 24k jewelry and the comparison of the purity of the jewels is to the purity of the gold.

In December 2021 (last year), Dabur had released another 'purity' themed ad for the International day of persons with disabilities. The ad says “achaai ki parakh sirf aakhon se nahi hoti”. It’s apt because the brand features a blind couple in its ad where the lady is preparing a delicious dessert and a dazzle of Dabur Honey is the icing on the cake.

If you're wondering why the brand is stressing so much on the 'purity' factor of the product, there's a long history behind it. It first started in August 2020, with a seemingly innocuous ad for Saffola Honey.

An ad made by 82.5 Communications, had a title which reads, "Saffola Honey - 100% Pure 100%". The YouTube description of the ad, however, caught our eye: "Every batch of Saffola Honey is tested using the most advanced NMR Test (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance) in one of the best-in-class German laboratories to ensure that it is pure, free from any form of adulteration and with no added sugar."

It was the first time such a scientific test was referenced in a category that otherwise stressed on wholesomeness, goodness and other more intangible values in its ads. This ad was published a month after Dabur had taken Saffola to court (in July 2020) over similarities in honey packaging.

The ad made Dabur sit up and take notice. Shortly after on October 16 2020, an ad for Dabur Honey made by Havas Creative, took a dig at Marico’s Saffola Honey. The 40-second ad (which has been removed from the brand's YouTube channel), saw a man dissuade a lady from buying what appears to be a bottle of Dabur Honey but is, in fact, a lookalike. The second part of the ad talks about the NMR test and 60+ quality checks Dabur Honey undergoes which help to support the brand’s claim of being the world’s leading honey brand.

However, neither brand could have been prepared for what came next. On December 2 2021, major honey brands such as Dabur, Patanjali, and Emami (Zandu Pure Honey) failed a purity test conducted by a German laboratory, as informed by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Delhi-based public interest research and advocacy organisation. Out of the 13 honey brands that were tested, Marico’s Saffola honey was the only big brand to pass all the tests.

As part of its investigation, the CSE selected 13 top and smaller brands of processed and raw honey being sold in India. It first tested the samples of these brands at the Centre for Analysis and Learning in Livestock and Food (CALF) at National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in Gujarat – all brands passed the purity test except Apis Himalaya. CSE also said a few smaller brands failed the tests to detect C4 sugar – “call it basic adulteration using cane sugar.”

Shortly after on 7 December, Dabur claimed that rival Marico’s Saffola Honey is adulterated and that it would be filing a complaint with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body of the advertising industry in India.

A Dabur spokesperson said, “Saffola Honey sample from the market has failed the NMR test. Test reports clearly indicate presence of sugar syrup in Saffola honey. Their claim on NMR test is misleading the consumers.”

“Dabur has cleared all the FSSAI-mandated tests, including SMR, besides voluntarily conducting NMR test periodically to ensure that our consumers get 100% Pure honey with no added sugar/syrups or any other adulterants,” remarked the spokesperson.

On the other hand, a Marico spokesperson said that on 3 December 2020, the company had filed a complaint before ASCI wherein it challenged the claim made by ‘Dabur India Ltd.’ that “Dabur Honey has passed the German NMR test”. The FMCG major said the complaint has been admitted by ASCI and taken on record for further hearing.

Marico's Saffola refused to stay quiet on this subject. On December 14 2021, the brand released an ad in which it claims that its honey also compliant with each of the quality parameters mandated by FSSAI (Food Safety and Standards Authority of India). A press note claims that Saffola guarantees every batch of Saffola Honey is NMR tested (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance test), which is one of the most advanced tests in the world and is considered the gold-standard for detecting adulteration in honey.

Then in January 2021, Dabur released a long form ad film. With this film, the team tries hard to dispel all doubts about the product's purity, by showing us the journey of honey from beehives in the forest to our urban breakfast table.

Replete with beautiful visuals and mesmerising music, the film shows local honey collectors, braving the odds and sourcing honey from the forests of the Sundarban, West Bengal. The last shot is dramatised to show honey falling from the hive, into a cup of tea. The film ends with a super on the screen that reads: ‘100 per cent pure, No sugar adulteration’.

After a relatively quiet 2021, Dabur has finally stirred up the water again with its reference to purity in its latest ad. It remains to be seen if Marico's Saffola will take the bait. Lets wait and watch...

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