Razor wars continue as Wilkinson Sword succeeds in halting Gillette campaign

LONDON - Wilkinson Sword has been granted a preliminary injunction against rival Gillette's advertising campaign in Australia in its efforts to stop the company from making claims about the strength of its M3 Power razor.

Pending a further hearing at the end of next week, Gillette has been prohibited from claiming that when shaving with the M3 Power wet razor "micro-pulses cause the facial hairs to stand up, giving a closer shave".

The move follows a similar preliminary injunction against Gillette about the campaign in Germany at the end of 2004. The latest action means that the UK television advertising campaign, which features David Beckham and uses the same strapline, could also be the subject of court action.

Gillette is not allowed to distribute the razor in its current packaging to retail outlets or further promote or advertise the razor pending the outcome of the hearing later this month.

The company must also attempt to withdraw any ads or promotion containing the claims, with the exception of in-store material that has already been distributed to retailers.

Colin Hutchinson, Wilkinson Sword's European vice-president, said: "This preliminary injunction reaffirms our decision to challenge claims that can not be substantiated in order to protect the integrity of the wet shaving category."

It is the latest in a series of legal blows the two have exchanged. Gillette tried to stop Dutch ads for Wilkinson Sword's four-blade Quattro, but failed after Wilkinson Sword filed a countersuit. The judge ruled that claims in both ads should not necessarily be believed.

At the start of 2004, US courts also thwarted legal action by Gillette, which tried to prevent Wilkinson Sword from selling Quattro altogether. Gillette took out a preliminary injunction to halt sales of the Quattro in the US, where it has been the number-one selling razor since its launch in September.

Wilkinson Sword accounts for nearly 20% of the UK's £261m shaving market, against Gillette's 69%.

Gillette's worldwide media buying account is held by MindShare and AMV handles its UK creative.

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