Nivea and Dove come to blows

Unilever has been accused of plagiarism and using “underhand tactics” in the way it advertises its Dove range of creams by rival Nivea, Campaign Middle East can reveal.

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By  Tim Addington Published  September 11, 2005

Unilever has been accused of plagiarism and using “underhand tactics” in the way it advertises its Dove range of creams by rival Nivea, Campaign Middle East can reveal. In a stinging attack on the FMCG giant, Robert Taylor-Hughes, general manager at Beiersdorf in the Middle East, owner of the Nivea brand, claimed that the company persistently used negative comparative advertising to promote Dove. Taylor-Hughes said that false claims about Nivea products have been made in Dove adverts which are not backed by scientific fact. He also said that Nivea packaging has been used in Dove ads and false claims made about it. “They will put our blue tin next to their [Dove’s] tin and say one is grease and the other isn’t,” he said. “Unilever, with its Dove brand, has been running negative comparative advertising campaigns against Nivea. You cannot undo 100 years of trust and innovation in a brand simply by putting your product in a blue and white jar and using underhand tactics. “It is frustrating that a brand like Unilever seems to find no better way forward than copying everything we are doing. This is a highly creative industry and I would expect better from such a well-known company,” he added. Taylor-Hughes said that he has called for an urgent meeting with senior managers at Unilever to discuss the issue, but has so far not heard from the company. He said that, despite both being members of the GCC Advertisers Association and working closely in many areas, he was “frustrated” by the lack of response from Unilever. But Rola Tassabehji, regional brand marketing manager for Dove, said the company would continue to compare its brand with Nivea’s where there was scientific fact to back it up. “If and when we have a claim that is backed by technical support, we do not shy away from it.” But she conceded: “In the past, we have had letters from Nivea and we have retracted ads when we felt they were not appropriate.” Tassabehji said Unilever operated the highest professional standards and also claimed she knew of no current request for a meeting with Nivea’s owners. The Germany-owned company has issued court injunctions in Europe to stop Dove from making unsubstantiated claims about the performance of its brand and “unfairly misleading consumers”. Beiersdorf reported export sales to the Middle East have risen by 31%since the same time last year. Nivea Soft sales reported a 20% increase in its sales, which the company attributed to the ‘More Moisture’ campaign by its creative agency TBWA/RAAD.

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