Court refers detergent advert row to tribunal

Monday October 7 2013

Competing brands Ariel and Omo washing powders. ScanGroup Ltd has been sucked into a suit where Unilever Kenya, the makers of Omo, has sued Procter & Gamble for allegedly running a non-factual detergent advertising campaign for Ariel. FILE

Competing brands Ariel and Omo washing powders. ScanGroup Ltd has been sucked into a suit where Unilever Kenya, the makers of Omo, has sued Procter & Gamble for allegedly running a non-factual detergent advertising campaign for Ariel. FILE 

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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A Nairobi court has directed that the dispute over a controversial detergent advertisement be settled by the Advertising Standards Board.

High Court judge Jacqueline Kamau asked manufacturers of Omo and Ariel to proceed to the tribunal for the hearing and determination of their case.

“I don’t want to give any other directions as of now. Go to the tribunal and consult on finding a resolution for the sake of your own interest,” Lady Justice Kamau said.

In the dispute regarding the One Wash Campaign for Ariel, Procter and Gamble, manufacturers of the detergent, had requested the court to allow the matter to be referred to the Advertising Standards Board.

The board is a special forum for dispute resolution in advertising and marketing.

“The continued publication in the media of the existence of the dispute is likely to result in a loss of public confidence in the competing products and to confuse the consumer, which would lead to loss of market share for both products and would no doubt result in loss that cannot be compensated by any award of damages to either party,” lawyer John Syekei said.

However, Unilever, the Omo manufacturers, claimed that it was not yet clear whether the Advertising Standards Board could address such issues. It wanted the court to give itself enough time to establish what the tribunal deals with before referring the case to it.

Procter and Gamble also wanted the court to give directions regarding an order issued on September 17, which requiring them to file their respective responses some information, which they feared could disclose trade secrets, as their competitors continue to enjoy media publicity.

ARGUE OUT CASES

Lady Justice Kamau last month ruled that since there had been a row over the Ariel detergent and questions about the advertising agency, it would only be justifiable to stop the advert while parties in the dispute argue out their cases.

Lawyer Kamau Karori for Unilever had pleaded with the court to stop the advert, arguing that the advert, which depicts Ariel as “Kenya’s best stain removal detergent”, was misleading.