German personal care company Sebamed on Tuesday got some relief in its ad row with HUL.

Stating that its its claims are backed by robust scientific research, the company said it welcomed the decision rendered by the Bombay High Court that Sebamed is permitted to air its advertisement — titled “ Doodh Jaise Safed Soap Ka Sach ” — for its cleansing bar, in its current form. In the ad, Sebamed cleansing bar is compared with HUL’s Dove.

At the same time, the court said the company should modify its other two advertisements in which its compares its cleansing bar with brands Lux and Pears, by dropping the reference to Rin detergent or any other detergent soap or washing detergent.

“Any advertisement of the defendant comparing their Sebamed Cleansing Bar with the Lux soap of the plaintiff or the Pears soap of the plaintiff shall not have any reference to the Rin detergent bar or any other detergent soap or washing detergent,” the order stated.

Sebamed said that the judgement is an unequivocal acknowledgement of the company’s endeavours to “educate consumers about pH values of soaps and their effects on the skin.”

“The honourable Judge permitted the Sebamed advertisement qua Dove to continue as it is with no changes, and for Lux, Pears and Santoor to continue after removing the segment relating to detergent bar. The Honourable Judge agreed that a fact-based scientific comparison did not amount to disparagement and parties are free to mention names of competitor brands as long as there is evidence backed comparison,” the Sebamed statement added.

On the issue of pH scale appearing on the website of Sebamed, court has ruled that the words “safe” and “not safe” shall be substituted with the words “ideal” and “not ideal” respectively. “ The defendant (Sebamed) shall file their affidavit-in-reply to the above Interim application within a period of four weeks from today,” the court said.

HUL options

HUL shall be at liberty to file an affidavit in-rejoinder, if any, within a period of two weeks thereafter.

Following the order, an HUL spokesperson said “Sebamed has been restrained from disparaging our products Pears and Lux, and comparing them with detergent soaps. We are reviewing the Hon’ble High Court’s order, and will explore all options in the interest of our consumers. We are committed to ensuring that consumers get information on all facets of the product they are buying, to make informed choices.”  

HUL had submitted to the court that the advertisement campaign in question denigrated its brands and products, did not take into account the full formulations of the products in question, thereby misleading consumers only on the basis of pH.