Sebamed’s advertisements took on HUL’s soap bars such as Lux and Dove and compared their pH levels to that of RIN, a detergent bar.

HUL granted ad interim junction against sebamed
Money Court Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 11:25

The war between German skincare brand Sebamed and Hindustan Unilever over the pH value of soap bars reached the Bombay High Court on Monday. The court granted HUL an ad-interim ex-parte injunction in a suit it filed against Sebamed's advertisements.

Sebamed India’s advertisements took on HUL’s soap bars such as Lux and Dove and compared their pH levels to that of RIN, a detergent bar. “Did you know the pH of Lux is the same as Rin?” one of its ads read. There were similar ads comparing Dove and Pears to RIN as well. 

“Science ki suno, aur perfect pH 5.5 chuno! Choose the expert care of pH 5.5 with Sebamed Cleansing Bar. To buy Sebamed products, use coupon code SEB10FB and click,” its tweets read. 

It also said in an ad that Dove is not ‘perfect for your skin’. These ads were published across television, print and digital mediums. 

These ads, HUL alleged, implied that while Sebamed’s cleansing bar had the perfect PH for sensitive skin, HUL’s Dove was an inferior product due to being pH neutral.

The Bombay HC recorded the submissions of HUL that the advertisement campaign denigrates its brands and products, does not take into account the full formulations of the products in question, and misleads consumers only on the basis of pH. 

It said 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, the court observed. 

Pending final disposal of the matter, the Bombay HC restrained USV Private Limited (Sebamed’s parent company) and its advertising agencies from advertising any content of similar nature across mediums. The matter will now be heard next on January 14. 

HUL welcomed the order. Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs said, “HUL’s brands are time-tested and have always delivered on the promise they have made to their consumers."

He added that it in the initial days of the pandemic, HUL had communicated to the masses that one could wash their hands with any soap as handwashing with soap is the first line of defence against the novel coronavirus.

Meanwhile, a Sebamed spokesperson said that while it would abide by the law, it reiterated that its claims are backed by science.

“Our claims are based on solid science and we have robust information and data points to back it up. We have not been served any court order as yet. We are a responsible organisation, and we abide by the law of land.”

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