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Bombay High Court rules in favour of HUL in case against Sebamed advertisements

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The Bombay High Court has ruled in favour of Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) in the case against the advertisements of German personal care brand Sebamed.

HUL had filed a petition after Sebamed likened HUL’s beauty soaps to their detergent bars in an advertisement. “Did you know the pH of Lux is the same as Rin?” it asked in a print campaign. This allegation kicked up a furore, with HUL promptly hitting back with an ad from Dove saying it was recommended by dermatologists.

“The Hon’ble Bombay High Court has ruled Sebamed’s entire campaign—based on the pH value of soap, comparing it to Dove, Pears and Lux—as disparaging. In its order on the application, the Court passed an injunction restraining Sebamed from airing the advertisement in any manner,” HUL said

‘pH one of many parameters’

“The ruling reaffirms that the advertisement campaign by Sebamed denigrated HUL’s brands and misled consumers on the basis of pH, which is just one of the many parameters that go into manufacturing soap,” HUL added.

Speaking on the ruling, Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs, HUL said, “We are delighted with the Hon’ble High Court’s ruling, which observed that Sebamed’s campaign unfairly seeks to discredit soap brands of HUL, and therefore, HUL deserves protection. We also found this campaign as one that was highly irresponsible, and that such a misleading communication was issued during the pandemic, when the Government and health authorities had advocated handwashing with any soap.”

Unsavoury remarks

In the Sebamed campaign released in January 2021, Sebamed had claimed that Dove, Lux and Pears, well-known soap brands that HUL has been marketing for decades, had higher pH, which was not apt for sensitive skin.

Through this order, the Court has acknowledged that the advertisement’s purpose was not to promote a product by Sebamed but to discourage the consumer from purchasing HUL’s products–which is not permissible, HUL said.

Published on

June 17, 2022



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