Thursday, November 16, 2006

First chicken rice war, now chicken essence war

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?


smallbot said...

Marcus thanks for pointing that out! I think a bit of competition and poking sometimes does more good than harm, It can lead for battle of the left brainers...Taking your article into account, I wanted to point out its more unfair to make claims in marketing materials that are false or misleading,..when I was doing my research when I was looking to move to Australia I discovered that ntrust singapore claimed on their website, seminar and other marketing material to be the only accredited singaporean migration agency... when I checked them out it seemed that not only are they not, but their agents are not even registered!...I would hate to see their TV ads!...I also don't like the fact that marketeers copy other people's ads without any reel sense of conception take LG chocolate Ad you can view it at
Its exactly like the Heineken "back in time" ad!...except Heineken's one had a purpose and it was ten fold the quality, you can view the Heineken ad at
I am keen to check ou Essence of Chicken's response, will they srike originality?


germyong said...

By filing a complain, it might help, but is a waste of effort. By filing claims, I bet only people in the advertising industry will be aware that they protest the caramel claim. How about the majority of their target audience? Are they aware? I dont think so. And since they did not action to clarify with their customers directly, the TA will think 'Oh its true then'.

It could be more effective if Essence of Chicken divert their efforts immediately to think of an ad to counter that ad? Maybe an empty bottle, that says, 'yes we contain caramel, and many other good stuffs' or something. A Gracious counter ad should be good for an established brand like them I think.