HUL's toilet cleaner brand Domex takes potshot on Reckitt's Harpic

Hindustan Unilever, India’s largest consumer products company, has again engaged in comparative advertising, taking a potshot at rival Reckitt Benckiser. ‘s latest commercial, released Friday, highlighted that Reckitt’s Harpic cannot remove malodour while cleaning but its toilet cleaner brand Domex can.

HUL said toilet cleaners are not a category where consumers spend enough time while buying and the effort is to raise the level of consciousness so that consumers make decisions based on evidence backed facts.

“What we are trying to do with this campaign is to say that there is a malodour problem which most people are aware of and struggling with. And that’s really what our product seeks to address. The second is for us to say that now there is a technology in Domex that allows you to have a product that does this better than the name product in the advertising,” Prabha Narasimhan, executive director-home care at HUL. “It is a science backed claim on a consumer relevant benefit.”

Reckitt did not respond to ET’s queries on whether they will seek a legal recourse or approach industry body The Advertising Council of India (ASCI) to challenge HUL’s latest campaign.

This is not the first time both companies have engaged in comparative advertisement. While Reckitt moved to the Delhi High Court nearly a decade ago, alleging HUL brought discredit to its cleaning product Harpic, HUL filed a lawsuit against RB last year, accusing that the latter disparaged Lifebuoy soap through its advertisements for Dettol.

Harpic is by far the market leader while Domex has about 7% share in the Rs1350 crore toilet cleaner segment. Experts said opting to launch an ad during the weekend will give HUL a lead time as it cannot be challenged or removed off-air for at least the next two days.

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“It is normal for a challenger brand to attack a market leader and the category is adjacent to HUL’s focus on hygiene. Also, pandemic has given an opportunity for many players to enter the segment, which is now a sizable market,” said Abneesh Roy, senior vice president at Edelweiss Securities.

Penetration of toilet cleaners have surged after a boost from the launch of PM Modi’s pet project Swachh Bharat in 2014 but overall reach of toilet cleaners — branded and unbranded – is still less than a fifth of all Indian households.



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