Home / Industry / Amul savours some relief in its ice-cream advertising war with Hindustan Unilever

Mumbai: The Bombay high court has allowed Amul to air its ice cream advertisements, but only after deleting content over which frozen desserts maker Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) had raised objections, including shots of vanaspati (vegetable oil) flowing in a cup with frozen dessert written on it. The court rejected Amul’s contention that its TV commercials (TVCs) did not denigrate frozen desserts.

Amul owner Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) had challenged an earlier single bench order that had ruled it guilty of disparaging frozen desserts. Consumer goods company HUL owns Kwality Wall’s brand and is the market leader in the frozen dessert category.

Amul’s ice cream ad campaign, launched in March last year, emphasized the difference between ice-creams (made from milk fat) and frozen desserts (made from vegetable oil). These definitions are according to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India norms.

“The appellant (GCMMF) would be free to use the said TVCs after deleting the portion which has been found to be disparaging the product frozen dessert," said a division bench of Bombay High Court comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and Riyaz I. Chagla.

The division bench had passed an order on 13 December that was uploaded on the Bombay high court website on 26 December.

Amul’s ads urged customers to choose ice-creams over frozen desserts, claiming that the latter was made with vanaspati. Soon after the launch of the campaign, HUL filed a lawsuit in Bombay high court asking for Amul to be stopped from airing the ads and seeking damages.

HUL argued that as Kwality Wall’s was the largest frozen dessert brand in India, it was directly hit by Amul’s ads though the commercials did not refer to it by name.

In June 2017, a single-judge bench of Justice S.J. Kathawalla granted HUL’s plea for an injunction against the advertisements. Amul challenged the order in the division bench.

The division bench took the view that the single bench order was a blanket injunction that could not have been granted and held that the TVCs in their entirety could not be said to be objectionable. The bench held that GCMMF was free to use the first seven out of a total of 10 snapshots in each of the two TVCs.

Vishal Maheshwari, co-founder of V.M. Legal Advocates, who is representing Amul in the case, confirmed the development but refused to divulge details citing confidentiality. HUL declined to comment on the developments.

“India is not just one country, but a lesson in diversity. While urban India is now grappling with pollution and infrastructure issues, and hence failing healths, they are much more concerned about the food and ingredients that go into making it," said Tina Jain Mehta, founder of Mumbai-based boutique branding agency Pineapple Consulting. “In sharp contrast, Bharat is in a state of euphoria as more brands/choices are available to them and they are in a mood to experiment

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