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Thursday, Feb 03, 2005

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Clean chit to Marico's saffola ad

Richa Mishra

New Delhi , Feb. 2

MARICO Industries Ltd, engaged in the business of manufacturing and marketing cooking and haircare oils under various brand names, including `Saffola Gold', has got a clean chit from the Monopolies & Restrictive Trade Practices Commission (MRTPC) on charges of unfair and restrictive trade practices.

A Delhi-based consumer had alleged that to promote and sell its `Saffola Gold' brand of oil, the company had aired some television and print advertisements, which recommended that even by leading a sedentary lifestyle and eating junk food cooked in the said oil, the heart can be protected and the cholesterol can be reduced.

He alleged that these advertisements were based on deception and misrepresentation amounting to unfair trade practices within the meaning of MRTP Act. It was further alleged that the company was earlier selling the same blend of cooking oil under the name of `Saffola Nutriblend' at a price of Rs 63 and the same is now being sold under the name of `Saffola Gold' at an enhanced price of Rs 89, which again is deceptive practice adopted by Marico.

The MRTP Commission agreed with the company's contention that the message conveyed by the impugned advertisement could be correctly gauged only by looking at the commercial in its totality. The advertisement clearly brings out the advice to take to jogging and cycling for keeping good health. In addition to all this, the wife finally also recommends the use of `Saffola Gold' as cooking medium to protect heart and reduce cholesterol.

There is nothing in the advertisement to suggest that use of the product is a substitute for physical exercise and dietary restrictions rather it is an additional measure suggested for reducing cholesterol.

"We agree with the contention of the Marico (respondent) that the alleged objectionable elements nowhere exist in the impugned advertisement and the applicant is trying to import the same into advertisement without any basis," it said.

"... No prima facie case of unfair or restrictive trade practice is made out against the company. Nor has the applicant been able to establish any of the other ingredients essential for grant of injunction as laid down by the Supreme Court. This being so, the application moved for grant of ad interim injunction with no order as to costs," the Commission said.

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