The honesty gambit: PM left red-faced after Unilever memory failure

Unilever offers British consumers over 400 brands. But could Cameron name any of them?
Unilever offers British consumers over 400 brands. But could Cameron name any of them?
Alex Stevenson By

David Cameron was forced to resort to brazen question-dodging after showing a complete lack of knowledge about Unilever's brands in India earlier.

The prime minister was visiting the food giant's India headquarters as part of his trip to the subcontinent when an employee put him on the spot.

She told Cameron that two out of three Indians use Unilever brands and asked the PM what the equivalent was in Britain, before adding: "What brand of Unilever is very close to you, and why?"

"Right, um, well we have very similar brands in the UK," the PM began, prompting journalists to prick up their ears as they realised he was struggling to name a single one of Unilever's 400 brands.


He talked about his career in television and the rivalry between Unilever and its major challengers Proctor and Gamble, before addressing the question directly.

"I don't want to start a flurry of excitement with saying I use Pear's soap or whatever it is," Cameron continued.

"I might get some of your brands wrong and mentioning the dishwasher liquid we use and then find it's used by your competitor. So I'm going to do that thing that politicians always do when they get a tough question, and dodge the question."

The prime minister is leading Britain's biggest ever trade delegation to India in a bid to secure trade deals and strengthen ties with the country.

His chances of impressing his hosts might have been boosted had he been able to identify Unilever brands like Marmite, Wall's ice cream, Bovril, Dove or Persil.

Had these proven elusive he might have preferred to recall that Cif, Flora, Cornetto, Vaseline and Ben and Jerry's are all Unilever brands.

With even these household names failing to pop up in his brain in time he could have mentioned Colman's, Hellman's, Radox, TresSemme, Peperami, Brylcreem, Domestos or I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

"I know you are incredibly well spread out across this country," Cameron finished. "It's been great to come here today…"

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