Competition Commission Grants Damages Worth 10 Million Rupees Against Proctor & Gamble For Engaging In Deceptive Marketing Practices

Author:S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates
Profession:S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates

In a recent order delivered by the Competition Commission of Pakistan, pursuant to a complaint filed by M/s Reckitt Benckiser Pakistan Limited (hereinafter referred to as the Complainant), against M/s Proctor & Gamble Pakistan Private Limited (hereinafter referred to as the Respondent) for violation of Section 10 ('deceptive marketing practices') of the Competition Act, 2010 (herein after referred as Act), the Commission imposed a penalty in the amount of PKR 10 Million!! (USD 94899 approx.)

Brief Background

On November 21, 2014, the Complainant filed the complaint alleging that the Respondent in its marketing and advertising claims has represented Safeguard as 'Pakistan's No. 1 rated Anti-bacterial Soap*' along with a disclaimer/disclosure in fine prints '*based on product in use test by AC Nielsen in April 14 amongst 600+ consumers'. The said claim tantamounts to dissemination of false or misleading information to consumers and competitors' and hence, a violation of Section 10 of the Act. The impugned advertisement goes like - "the TVC portrays a typical household scene in which two children and (their) mother are talking about how flu and cold (influenza) are epidemics in winters. The conversation between the three characters suggests that the use of 'Safeguard' can protect them from germs causing influenza, among other things. It is then endorsed and further explained by a doctor, who states that the spread of flu and cold is rampant in winters. He then goes on to state that Safeguard is Pakistan's No. 1 antibacterial soap, which provides protection against germs causing flu and cold. The TVC ends on this note with set vocals and image claiming that Safeguard is a well-recognized No. 1 antibacterial soap in Pakistan." The Complainant submitted AC Nielson's data reflecting share of the leading antibacterial soaps in Pakistan: The Complainant stated that Nielsen's data reflects the falsity of the Respondent's claim whether taken in value share or volume share. Furthermore, the Respondent lacking any substantial proof or reliable scientific healthcare related evidence in support of its claim is distributing false or misleading information to consumers. The Complainant stated that Respondent has violated Section 10(2)(b),(a)&(c) of the Act by disregarding Commission's Public Notice 'Business Be Aware Before You Advertise' dated September 23, 2013. On December 04, 2014, the Office of Fair Trade (hereinafter referred to as 'OFT') of...

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