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Delhi High Court rejects HUL’s plea against Emami’s Fair and Handsome fairness cream

This is Emami’s third win against HUL in the court of law. HUL is a key member of ASCI and yet had to approach court on various occasions

Emami has won a legal battle against Hindustan Unilever related to the brand’s latest TVC starring Vidyut Jammwal for its Fair and Handsome fairness cream.

The Delhi High Court in its judgement on March 27 upheld the right of Fair and Handsome to run the advertisement that shows how women’s fairness creams are not designed for use on men’s tough skin.

The court rejected HUL’s plea, which claimed Fair and Handsome’s TV commercial was disparaging to its own brand, Fair & Lovely.

This is Emami’s third win against HUL. In June 2018, HUL had aired a television commercial for Men’s Fair & Lovely, showing Fair and Handsome, claiming their own product to be the original one, thus causing direct disparagement to Fair and Handsome. The court provided an injunction in favour of Fair and Handsome, restraining HUL from circulating and displaying the commercial.

In July 2018, HUL had gone on appeal to the Calcutta High Court on similar grounds, which rejected it saying, “Even on prima facie consideration of the time‐frame of launching the respective products, the product of the petitioner, ‘Men’s Fair and Lovely’, is much younger on point of commencement.”

HUL is one of the key members of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and yet it had to approach court on several occasions against brands. HUL had earlier taken on Fair and Handsome at ASCI.

In 2017, HUL had contested against Fair and Handsome Instant Fairness Face Wash and 100% Oil Clear Face Wash. Reviewing clinical study reports, consumer evidence and research studies, the Independent Review Committee (IRC) of ASCI, chaired by Justice Mohit Shah, Retired Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court, summarily dismissed the complaints, leading to the dismissal of all 18 objections on both products.

MG Parmeswaran, Founder, Brand-Building.com, asked why had HUL been approaching the courts when it is one of the charter members of ASCI and has been getting rejected?

HUL moved the Delhi High Court against Fair and Handsome’s latest commercial with its brand endorser, Vidyut Jammwal, who says the line, “Ab to ladkiyon ki cream chhodo”. HUL pleaded that the said commercial claims that its own product, ‘Fair & Lovely’, is rubbish and inefficacious and restricted to use only by women. The ad also showed a tube that was white and pink in colour, which HUL had claimed to be a distinctive feature of its brand, Fair & Lovely.

Justice Jayant Nath, commented, “In view of the literature that has been posted on its own website by the plaintiff [HUL], it also cannot be said that prima facie the statements made in the advertisement regarding using of women’s cream by men is false.”

On the disparagement case, the court questioned, “Can it be said that this advertisement on account of the said dialogue stated is false or misleading or unfair or deceptive? Does it amount to generic disparagement? The answer is in the negative.”

An Emami spokesperson said, “The ruling by the Delhi High Court reinforces the fact that Fair and Handsome is built on a foundation of truth and trust. We thank the Hon’ble High Court for upholding the truth and the right to free speech. Fair and Handsome has earned immense consumer trust and is among India’s Top 50 Most Trusted Health and Personal Care brands (Brand Equity Most Trusted Brands 2019 study). We take this consumer trust with humility and acknowledge the brand’s huge responsibility to our consumers. We are not surprised by the consistent strategy adopted by HUL to target Fair and Handsome on frivolous grounds across forums. We will endeavour to do everything in our realm to safeguard the best interests of consumers, by empowering them with the right information.”

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