Complan Vs Horlicks: Comparative Advertising and the Question of Ethics
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Case Code : MKTG209
Case Length : 18 Pages
Period : 2008-2009
Pub Date : 2009
Teaching Note :Not Available
Organization : GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare; Heinz
Industry : Consumer Packaged Goods; Health drinks
Countries : US; Global
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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.
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Horlicks was invented by William Horlick (William) and his brother James Horlick (James) (1844-1921) in 1873. The brothers belonged to Gloucestershire, England. James was a chemist and worked for a company which made dried baby food...
Complan, owned by the Heinz Company, was one of the most popular health drinks in India. The name Complan was coined from the words
"COMplete" and "PLANned". Complan was introduced by Glaxo Laboratories (Glaxo) in the UK during World War II (1939-1945), as an essential nutritional supplement for soldiers at the frontlines...
The Health Drink War
According to analysts, until the 1990s, Horlicks was the more aggressive player in the health drink market compared to Complan. While Horlicks introduced a series of variants aimed at the family segment and promoted its products well, Complan lay low on the promotional front, with its ads just focusing on the
"extra growth" attribute...
Backing up the Claims
Experts felt that in their quest to outdo their rivals, advertisers resort to comparative advertising and at times ends up denigrating the competitor brand. Some analysts felt that companies resorted to comparative advertising to gain publicity and to increase sales...
Though both the companies backed their claims with scientific research data, they were still locked in a legal battle. Issues of disparaging ads by rival companies were often resolved by the ASCI. But with constant mudslinging at each other, the two companies decided to battle it out in the courts instead...
Exhibit I: A Brief Note on GSK and Heinz
Exhibit II: A Brief Note on Comparative Advertising in India
Exhibit III: Timeline of Brand Horlicks
Exhibit IV: Timeline of Complan
Exhibit V: Health Drinks Market in India