From Paytm to Ola, five ads that faced backlash on social media in 2016
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New Delhi: 2016 witnessed brands creating powerful pieces of communication such as Nike Da da ding ad,, Micromax promoting regional languages or Tanishq’s Mia range of jewellery ad that talked about equality for women at work. However, there were few odd campaigns which faced social media ire for either being sexist, insensitive or badly executing a sensitive issue. A look at the campaigns that were withdrawn or modified after being attacked on social media platforms.
Paytm: Cashing in on the opportunity of demonetization of Rs500 and Rs1, 000 currency notes, mobile commerce firm Paytm’s television commercial, created by McCann Delhi, Drama band Karo, Paytm karo (Stop being melodramatic, use Paytm) miffed a section of social media users. The company tweaked the ad changing the tagline to Chinta nai, Paytm karo (Do not worry, use Paytm). The original ad featured a visibly angry woman talking about the hardships that demonetization has created especially for daily wage workers or household helps who are often paid in cash.
Jack and Jones: The Danish fashion brand faced the ire of consumers on social media for a suggestive outdoor campaign featuring actor Ranveer Singh. Made by advertising agency Marching Ants, the billboard featured Singh dressed in formal attire carrying a woman on his shoulders about to enter an elevator as the suggestive copy states ‘Don’t Hold Back, take your work home’. The woman, also dressed in Western formals, is shown smiling while the elevator boy, smirking, is shown opening the door. Users on Twitter accused the brand of being utterly sexist and objectionable. The ad was also reported to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the advertising industry watchdog. The company eventually withdrew it and individually tweeted to the complainants apologizing for causing distress.
Pan Bahar and James Bond : Hollywood actor Pierce Brosnan, best known for his role as James Bond, made headlines for endorsing Pan Bahar, the pan masala from DJ Group. As soon as the brand’s campaign (television commercial, print and outdoor) was released, users on Twitter started trolling the ads. Jokes, memes, photo-shopped images of the front page print ads, featuring Brosnan and his pan-stained white beard were doing the rounds of Facebook and Twitter. Responding to the outrage the actor apologized and clarified that he agreed for the endorsement because the product was pitched to him as a breath freshener/tooth whitener devoid of any harmful substance. The company decided to pull off the television ads after the backlash.
Ola: Ride-hailing app, Ola rolled out a campaign in April to promote the affordability proposition for its Micro service. The ad, created by Happy Creative Services, featured a young couple doing street shopping where the boyfriend is shown paying for items and eventually goes onto to say “My girlfriend costs Rs525 per km but Ola Micro costs just Rs6 per km”. The underlining message being that using an Ola Micro is cheaper than dating one’s girlfriend. The campaign was attacked on social media for being sexist and was withdrawn by the company.
Havells India: The electrical equipment company, known for its socially relevant Hawa Badlegi ads, rolled out a television commercial in March soon after the Jat agitation over reservation-related issue. Executed by Mullen Lintas, the spot featured a young girl choosing to fill a general category form instead of one for quota and a young man picking a half-burnt book amidst a protest. The campaign received a mixed reaction over social media. While some called it a bold and inspiring, others found it casteist. Eventually, the company decided to take the ad off air