Indian Olive Association action plan against misleading ads

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After winning the battle against Marico’s Saffola, the Indian Olive Association is going on the offensive arming itself with a marketing budget of ₹50 crore for a new campaign aimed at dispelling myths about olive oil.

As many as 16 olive oil players such as Cargill and Delmonte have come together to fund this new campaign. These olive oil producers had earlier written to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) protesting against Marico’s advertisements that claim its edible oil brand Saffola Total is healthier than olive oil. The ASCI has recently upheld the complaint against Marico.

Backed by the ASCI ruling, the olive producers are now starting their own campaign along with the non-profit Spanish body — Interprofessional del Aceite de Oliva espanol — to counter any possible damage caused by Marico’s advertisement in the past year. The Spanish body has already spent €3 million with its ‘Join the Olive Oil Revolution’.

“The fact that Saffola has two times the antioxidant power than olive oil has been a false claim for the past three years. We will address this with wider participation from the 16 olive oil players who will together pump in about ₹50 crore as part of their marketing budget not only to promote olive oil, but also take action to keep such misleading claims at bay. We may now have a combined campaign with the Spanish Olive body since it has already spent €3 million in India and Indonesia,’’ said Rajneesh Bhasin, President of Indian Olive Association.

The largest olive oil brand in the country, Leonardo, from Cargill is also making attempts to correct the perception of olive oil.

“The matter has been taken up at an association level and we will have a campaign in the next 4-5 months,’’ said Siraj A Chaudhry, Chairman, Cargill India.

Delmonte is also worried about consumers getting misleading information on olive oil. “It is a dynamic market environment and unless the information is factual, consumers will get mislead by ads against olive oil,’’ said Yogesh Bellani, CEO, Field Fresh Foods, the company behind Delmonte olive oil. With the olive oil category poised to enter tier II cities, the association is making sure that consumers are better informed about the category.

“A lot of modern trade stores in metro cities have access to olive oil brand promoters, who constantly address consumer’s queries, but this is not the case in tier II towns. Now, with olive oil oil making gentle in-roads into tier II towns , misleading communication from a reputed brand like Marico would make it difficult for the olive oil category to expand,’’ added Bhasin.

Health consciousness among consumers is fuelling comparisons within edible oil players. This has led to competitive intensity among `healthy’ edible oil brands being on the rise. In the past, Adani Wilmar has also tried to compare its own Fortune rice bran oil with olive oil.

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