Giant laundry care producers, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are not only competing over shelf space but also television advertisements.

In January, the Adverting Standards Authority ruled on a case involving a Unilever complaint against a TV advert for Ariel liquid detergent.

The presenter in the advert claims Ariel “removes many tough stains better than the best-selling washing liquid in one wash”.

Unilever argued that according to Nielsen market share data, the best-selling automatic washing liquid was Omo concentrated liquid, so the advert made a clear comparison between Ariel and Omo.

Ariel also claims that the stain-removing capability of the detergent was tested at a leading testing company, SGS Institut Fresenuis, in Germany.

Unilever said consumers would believe that Ariel removed many more tough stains than Omo in one wash.

The complaint sought details of what stain was used to test these claims, and whether the stains on the Omo-washed shirt were amplified in any way.

The matter was taken to a credible expert, John Knowlton of Cosmetic Solutions, to do the tests. Supporting evidence included that of the SGS Institut Fresenuis.

The Adverting Standards Authority ruled that Ariel’s claims – that it removed many tough stains better than the best-selling liquid detergent in one wash – had been substantiated and that the advert was not misleading.

It said the fact that Ariel made a superiority claim did not automatically mean that the claim was disparaging to other products. In fact, the respondent had substantiated its claim, therefore the claim was a factual comparison.

Unilever took a beating in this case, but it still has most market share in laundry care products.

Manufacturing sector

As the crippling wage strike continues in the platinum belt, the Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) has called on unions in the manufacturing sector to adopt a different approach.

The first prize for all the economic sectors approaching wage negotiations should be to avoid protracted wage strikes.

Yesterday, Seifsa met unions at the Metal and Engineering Industries Bargaining Council pre-wage negotiations conference in Benoni. The conference continues today.

Labour cannot exist without business, and business cannot exist without labour. This was the crux of the message.

This symbiotic relationship needed to be at the core of the upcoming negotiations, said Seifsa economist Taffie Chibanguza.

Seifsa will start wage negotiations at a time when the industry is facing increasing pressure from imports.

The reality is that the South African economy has underperformed, and the manufacturing sector has bled jobs and is vulnerable to protracted wage strikes.

“The sector’s output is 20 percent below 2007 levels, and in 2013 employment in the metals and engineering industry is estimated to have grown by a mere 1 percent,” Chibanguza said.

“The sector’s overall capacity utilisation has continued to dwindle below 75 percent. Without capacity utilisation, employment is certain to drop.”

The retention and creation of jobs starts with decisive leadership from both employers and employees.

Employers and employees in the platinum industry have failed dismally at meeting half way and the main casualty has been the economy.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union is leading the strike on the platinum belt for a R12 500 minimum wage – up from R5 500 currently. The strike has disrupted production at three top platinum makers since January 23.

Unfortunately, the consequences will be felt when it is too late to make a difference in the mining sector.

Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions from Nompumelelo Magwaza and Dineo Faku.