Eu Yan Sang’s latest chicken essence ads have raised more than a few eyebrows and not for what it claims rather it’s for how an unspecified brand located next to Eu Yan Sang’s tonic is packaged – in Brand’s Essence of Chicken green.
The problem that Brand’s has with the ad is a) the packaging of the unspecified tonic is in Brand’s trademark green and b) the point of the label ‘contains caramel’ on the unknown bottle is emphasised negatively by the label on Eu Yan Sang’s tonic which reads ‘caramel free’. The teaser line ‘what’s really in you essence of chicken’ adds to Brand’s potential unhappiness.
So are these ads simply brilliant or anti-competitive?
Under the Singapore Code of Advertising practice, it states ads should not unfairly attack or discredit other products, or organisations directly or by implication. Brand’s has already filed a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority of Singapore (Asas) – its job is to promote ethical advertising here.
For Eu Yan Sang’s ad to be proven unethical, Brand’s would have to prove they were unfairly and deliberately targeted and that the ad contains false information.
Brand’s can claim they were targeted in the ad with the unknown brand bottle carrying similar packaging and as the market leader – and a well known brand in Singapore, they might have a case. But this wouldn’t have been the first time similar ‘packaging’ tactics were used in ads before and I doubt it will be the last.
In terms of the ad being wrong, Brand’s Essence of Chicken does contain caramel, albeit a miniscule amount, roughly 0.32% of the contents from a bottle is caramel. So what now?
Look at this ad / online game from SingTel’s website – red vs green – hmm…? I don’t think it’s unethical, do you?