Ordinary Advertising Headache

BUDAPEST--There is a new laundry detergent on Hungarian store shelves. Nothing special about it, just ordinary washing powder. So ordinary, in fact, its brand name is just that Ordinary Washing Powder.

Hungarian Entrepreneur Gyorgy Klapka, got the idea for his Hagymanyos Mosopor (literally "ordinary washing powder) brand while watching TV one night. "I was lying in bed watching the commercials and I noticed how often the 'ordinary' brands are put down. This gave me the idea to launch these products."

The laundry detergent and fabric softener are already in stores in the low end of the price range competing with brands introduced by multi-national producers, Colgate-Palmolive and UK-based Lever Bros. Stressing the products' "high quality", Klapka is targeting many cost conscious shoppers looking for value in the face of a combined weak currency and double digit inflation.

The products are made in the southwestern town of Kecskemet and will soon be expanded to include Ordinary brand cigarettes, candy and dish washing liquid.

With "ordinary" products mentions in so many advertisements of brand name products, Klapka could be wreaking havoc in the market. Under Hungarian law, it is illegal to mention rival brands as part of a quality comparison. "I am going to send a letter to every company which refers to 'ordinary' washing powders and inform them they must cease this advertising within eight days," said Klapka. "This will be a big scandal."

Peter Nagy of the Hungarian Advertising Association declined to comment on the possible fallout, saying only, "It could be problematic."

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