Anil Thakraney: The Dettol/Vim slugfest

04 Mar,2013

By Anil Thakraney


So, the Vim (Lever) guys have taken the Dettol (Reckitt) guys to court over the dishwasher ad. This sounds like a lot of fun waiting to happen. Because comparative advertising is always entertaining, as we viewers sit back and watch two marketing giants slug it out.


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However, I have always believed that involving the courts to sort out ad disputes is a waste of time, energy and money. For two reasons: One, by the time the court order to pull the ‘offending’ ad arrives, the damage is already done. And even after the court order, a canny marketer will find an innovative way to keep the onslaught going.


In this particular case, I know where Dettol is coming from; even though it’s an old, established brand, their dishwasher is a new product, and they had to do desperate things to grab some of the leader’s (Vim’s) market share. Which explains the full and frontal attack. And it makes enormous strategic sense. Vim has always promised tough action on grease (the ‘visible’ problem). Dettol has played to its core strength, they say it will kill the germs (the ‘invisible’ problem). So it’s a strategic move that makers of Vim should have seen coming, they ought not to be surprised. Dettol’s USP across its product range has been the antiseptic value, so they were going to play that card with the dishwasher too. And methinks it’s going to work, nothing better to get the worried mama’s attention than to speak bacteria with her.


So what should Vim do? Well, they have retaliated, but their reactionary ad, while on the right track, is a tad weak. The ad says that an antiseptic is harsh, and that Vim clears germs too, but that’s not powerful enough. That’s like a rap on the knuckles of a person who’s just punched you in the face. I think Vim should launch an all-out counter attack, and hit Dettol where it hurts. They should create hard-hitting ads on how, for example, the residue left behind by an antiseptic agent can be detrimental to the family’s health. In fact, they should create a huge scare around it. That would put their opponent on the back foot.


Net net: These duels have to be fought on the marketing battlefield, not in courtrooms. That’s where the real action is.




PS: How dare they mock the vegans! I am a ghaas phoos khaanewala, and I take serious offence to this Taco Bell ad. Thanks to the pressure exerted by people like me on the social media, they were compelled to pull this commercial. Good riddance, I say! 🙂




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One response to “Anil Thakraney: The Dettol/Vim slugfest”

  1. rita says:

    Looking forward to see the result of this marketing war.