Nestle Vietnam, owner of the popular Milo malt drink brand, has recently petitioned to the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to look into the suspicion of unfair competition and advertisement violations of FrieslandCampina Vietnam, which owns competing Ovaltine brand.
Nestle complains that FrieslandCampina duplicated the concept of some of its contents, such as pictures/videos of kids trying hard at competitions and complementing written comments.
In addition, a recent photo of 2 billboards in the same location belonging to Milo and Ovaltine went viral on social media. The Milo copy reads "A champion made by Milo." while the tagline for Ovaltine reads "As long as you enjoy it, you don't need to be champions." The two characters in the Ovaltine banner also directly points toward the Milo banner, further strengthening the association between the two across the busy intersection.
Nestle also complained that apart from the billboard, Ovaltine also released a series of ad posters seemingly criticising the "champion ethos" that has been central to Milo's brand identity. These posters also utilise the green color and other visual cues that are often associated with Milo's advertisements.
However, executives from the advertisement sector doubt that the petition will lead to any conclusion. Indirectly, both Milo and Ovaltine will gain more publicity out of this case.
Legally, the color green is not copyrightable because it does not belong to anyone. It will also be hard to accuse Ovaltine of unfair competition because the advertisements don't refer to Milo's product quality as they only reflect 2 different approaches to educating children and parenting.
Kantar Worldpanel earlier reported that Vietnamese firms will spend a total of Dong 68 trillion (US$2.96 billion) on media advertisement in 2018.