Voltas has filed a legal suit against China’s largest appliance maker Haier of ambush marketing by running an advertisement campaign that allegedly spoofs a campaign of the Tata Group Company, two senior industry executives said.
The lawsuit, filed in the Delhi High Court, also names Haier’s advertisement agency, Mumbai based ZeroZero Creative Solutions and its partner Kumar Subramaniam as defendants.
Voltas, the country’s largest air-conditioner maker, has challenged Haier’s television commercial as a “direct disparagement for brand Voltas”, as per the suit document reviewed by ET. It alleged that the Haier commercial shows aprotagonist similar to ‘Mr Murthy’ featured in Voltas’ campaign, with similar actions and plot.
Voltas has argued that the case of disparagement for brand Voltas strengthens since Haier has used the phrase “ganda hai” repeatedly in their campaign, with a direct implication on brand Voltas.
The company has also claimed that as per Advertising Standards Council of India protocol, comparative advertising should have tangible data support which is missing in Haier’s campaign
Industry executives said Haier’s campaign has also done similar references and spoofs of brand protagonist and advertising campaigns of two other Indian brands — Blue Star and Godrej, but executives of these two companies said they are unlikely to take any action.
Godrej Appliances business head Kamal Nandi said the company will not take any action even though it is in bad taste since he feels the Haier campaign will help recall of the Godrej brand.
Blue Star joint managing director B Thiagarajan said while Haier’s campaign is not an ethical thing to do and is an ill-conceived idea, his company has decided to ignore it.
An industry executive said the matter is sensitive for Voltas since it had gained top recall and overtook LG in the AC market on the back of high voltage campaigns using ‘Mr Murthy’ as the protagonist since the last seven years.
While Voltas has around 22% market share in the Indian AC market followed by LG in the second spot, Haier is much below the rankings with around 3% share, said executives quoting GfK data. Godrej has 5% share, while Blue Star claims 11% share including commercial sales.
Fight between brands is intense this year since the AC market has not grown in March and April due to unseasonal rainfalls across the country leaving retailers and brands with unsold inventory.