Plea Filed By Dettol To Stay Santoor Hand Wash Advertisement Rejected By Delhi High Court






Case Title: Reckitt Benckiser (India) Pvt Limited vs Wipro Enterprises Limited

The Single bench of Justice C Hari Shankar of Delhi High Court `rejected petition filed by Dettol on staying of advertisement of Santoor hand wash.

“It would be reading too much into the impugned advertisement, in my opinion, to extract, from it, anything derogatory or deprecating regarding Dettol… Even if all these features of the advertisement are collectively seen, they do not make out, in any manner of speaking, a message which either denigrates or disparages Dettol”.

The young girl wants to play with her mother. The mother has, however, been gardening, and her hands are rough and dirty. She washes her hands with Santoor Hand Wash, having washed her hands, she goes to play with her daughter. The young is amazed at the softness of her mother’s hands. While she coaxes her mother into continuing to play with her, a voice over announces: “haath itne soft ki chhodne ka mann na kare” (the hands are so soft that you do not feel like leaving them). Mother lovingly caresses her daughter’s cheeks. After caressing the young girl cheeks, her mother removes, from the shelf, a plastic bottle, labelled “ordinary hand wash”. The bottle bears the shape of the Dettol Hand Wash.

  The counsel for the defendant (santoor) submitted that the product intended to be shown was indeed the plaintiff’s Dettol Hand Wash. Having removed the “ordinary hand wash” from the shelf, the young girl’s mother replaces it with the defendant’s Santoor Hand Wash, with which she had washed her hands. A voice-over announces, simultaneously, “saadhaaran handwash ke muqable naye Santoor Handwash mein hain chandan ke gun jo rakhe haathon ko soft” (“as compared to ordinary hand washes, Santoor Hand Wash has, in it, the benefits of sandal, which keeps the hands soft”). A second voice-over announces “ab har sparsh mein komalta” (“now, softness in every touch”).

The counsel for the plaintiff’s (Dettol) alleged that the bottle which is being removed in the ad bears the shape of Dettol Hand Wash.

The bench said that “Priya’s amazement, especially considering that it is the reaction of a little girl, all of around 5 to 6 years of age, cannot be subjected to a searching psychoanalysis. She finds her mother’s hands soft, and is delighted at it. It cannot, thereby, be legitimately held that Priya was, impliedly, conveying a message that, earlier, her mother’s hands had not been soft. At the highest, all that could be said was that, perhaps, her mother’s hands were softer than they used to be. Priya’s reaction is the spontaneous reaction of a child, not the searching response of a critic”.

While dismissing the plea the court said that “No prima facie case is, therefore, made out, to injunct the broadcasting or display of the impugned advertisement”.

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