Mumbai: Hindustan Unilever Ltd, maker of the Kwality Wall’s brand of frozen desserts, has come out with a new ad film stressing the use of milk in its products, taking the ‘ad war’ to the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).
The ad is seen as a response to a campaign by GCMMF, which owns the Amul ice-cream brand, that claimed frozen desserts contain hydrogenated vegetable oil, often called vanaspati.
HUL has already dragged GCMMF to the Bombay high court for the campaign, which it says is “disparaging” towards frozen desserts.
According to regulations of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, ice-creams made with any kind of vegetable fat other than milk fat are termed frozen desserts.
HUL’s 15-second ad, posted on YouTube through the Kwality Wall’s official channel on 17 April, uses the tagline “Kwality Wall’s, Made with Milk”, and shows an animated milk bottle asking animated Kwality Wall’s products: “Who drank the milk?”
The tagline emphasizes that Kwality Wall’s frozen desserts are made with milk, just like ice-creams. The video is accompanied by a caption that says: “It’s time we answer this question and put all the rumours to rest.”
In Amul’s ad, featuring a young girl visiting the dentist, a voice-over urges viewers to give their children “pure” milk ice-creams such as Amul’s rather than frozen desserts made with vanaspati tel or vegetable oil.
The Kwality Wall’s ad was devised by HUL’s creative agency DDB Mudra, which declined to comment.
In an emailed response to Mint’s queries, an HUL spokesperson said, “This is a separate campaign to inform consumers that Kwality Wall’s range is ‘Made with Milk’.”
HUL didn’t specify which channels will be used to play the ad and how much it will invest in the campaign. Although the Kwality Wall’s YouTube channel has only around 4,900 subscribers, HUL has plenty of clout to get its message across to consumers. In the week between 8 and 14 April, for instance, HUL was the top television advertiser, according to data collected by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India.
Brand and consumer analysts say HUL will be compelled to hit back with such ads as sales of ice-creams and frozen desserts rise with onset of summer.
“Until Amul did this (ice-cream versus frozen desserts) ad, I don’t think the consumer gave a damn,” said independent brand expert Harish Bijoor. “The difference between ice-cream and frozen dessert was a footnote. Now, the consumer is curious. Now that HUL has replied, there will be two camps. One which says frozen desserts are fine and another that supports ice-creams.”
Bijoor added that while HUL has taken the legal route in its fight against Amul’s ads, the real challenge for both companies is convincing the Indian consumer.
The Amul-HUL spat is only the latest in a long list of large consumer brands fighting one another in the courtroom while taking digs at each other in their respective ad campaigns. In the court hearings, both sides cited instances including the Ujala fabric whitener campaign that took digs at Robin Blue, and Colgate India’s ad that attacked Dabur’s Lal Dant Manjan.
“Around the world, brand rivalry has shown up in ads. It has been particularly aggressive in markets like the US with famous rivalries like Coca-Cola and Pepsi, or McDonald’s and Wendy’s,” said Harminder Sahni, founder of consumer advisory firm Wazir Advisors.
“I would say India is still very timid with its brand rivalry in ads.”