ITC modifies disparaging ads


ITC submitted to Delhi High Court that it would remove references to the PepsiCo India brand, Tropicana, in its advertisements after being restrained from using such references by the court through orders dated 6 April and 9 April.

PepsiCo filed the suit for product disparagement on the ground that ITC’s recent ad campaign for its juice brand B Natural targeted Tropicana. The ads, which were carried in print and social media and on hoardings, invited Tropicana and another competitor, Dabur’s Real, to give up concentrates.

“Pepsi argued that ITC’s use of Tropicana’s name and the hashtag ‘SayNoToConcentrate’ in its advertisement campaign insinuates that Tropicana juices are not made from real fruit and accordingly are unhealthy,” said Dheeraj Nair, a partner at J Sagar Associates (JSA) who represented PepsiCo.

“Such an advertisement campaign denigrates and disparages PepsiCo’s product, since juice from concentrates is recognized and permitted under the applicable food laws in India and safe for human consumption.” Nair said the courts had recognized product disparagement as an actionable claim under tort law.

The court allowed ITC to conduct its promotional event on 9 April after it agreed not to use or refer to PepsiCo’s product in any manner, or disparage it. Tropicana has an approximately 28% market share in the Indian packaged juice market.

The JSA team also included senior associate Kunal Mimani and associate Shruti Dass. Senior advocates P Chidambaram, AS Chandhiok and Rajeev Mehra argued the case in court on behalf of PepsiCo.

Dua Associates represented ITC. Senior advocates AM Singhvi, Rajiv Nayar, Arvind Nigam and Sajan Poovaiah argued on behalf of ITC.