In a reprieve to Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), the manufacturer of Kwality Walls ice-cream and frozen desserts, the Bombay High Court today restrained Amul from airing an ice cream commercial. Justice S J Kathwalla allowed application filed by HUL seeking an injunction against the advertisement of Amul which claimed HUL ice-creams where frozen desserts made out of vegetable oil and hence not safe to consume. “I have considered the content, intent of the commercial, manner and storyline of the commercial and the message sought to be conveyed by the TVC in totality and it has become crystal clear that the same are shown with the sole intention of disparaging the entire category of frozen desserts,” Justice Kathawalla said.
“From the storyline and manner of the commercial, it can be clearly seen that the message that is sought to be given is that all frozen desserts contain vanaspati/ vegetable oil and that all frozen desserts are necessarily unhealthy and harmful and should not be purchased and consumed,” the court said in its 87-page judgment. The court noted that the commercials are being televised repeatedly and hence disseminating wrong information and creating confusion among viewers. The court also refused to stay its order and said it cannot allow Amul to indulge in negative campaigning against its rival companies.
Senior counsel Ravi Kadam appearing for Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, which makes Amul ice-creams, had defended the Amul commercial and said that the ad doesn’t denigrate HUL’s frozen desserts. He said the ad was merely informative as it informed society and consumers that frozen desserts contain vegetable oil — Vanaspati oil. HUL’s counsel Virag Tulzapurkar said the ad specifically mentions vanaspati in Hindi while other parts of the ad are in English and it is so done to target a larger audience in disparaging its frozen dessert products.