Today, every living-being is aware of the power of social media. On one hand, it can be powerful and influential and on the other, it can be brutal and ugly. Even the high-powered companies are not spared by the savage-world of social media.
Here are some ad campaigns that have been the victims of social-media aggression and of course the huge loss that follows that –
Recently, HUL faced the annoyance of Twitterati, after it published an advertisement on tea brand Brooke Bond Red Label. The endorsement was backlashed for offending the Hindu culture and defaming the holy Kumbh Mela.
The Ad illustrated a middle-aged man leaving his elderly father between the cattle-like crowd of people, before realizing the importance of his father in his life. It was accompanied by a caption – “Kumbh Mela is a place where old people get abandoned, isn’t it sad that we do not care for our elders? Red Label encourages us to hold the hands of those who made us who we are: An eye opener to a harsh reality.”
This tweet didn’t go down well with the people and soon sharp reaction like- #boycotthindustanunilever was raging the twitter-world with 41.6 million and 42,100 mentions. India’s largest advertiser is well-versed with such controversies. This was the second time in 3 months that HUL faced such criticism.
From East India Co to @HUL_News that’s their true character. Their only agenda is to make the country poor economically & ideologically. Why shld we not boycott them? For them everything, every emotion is just a commodity. For us parents are next to Gods #BoycottHindustanUnilever https://t.co/suozbymLBI
— Swami Ramdev (@yogrishiramdev) March 7, 2019
Soon the tweet was replaced with the caption- “RedLabelChai encourages us to hold the hands of those who made us who we are. Watch the heart-warming video #ApnoKoApnao.”
— Hindustan Unilever (@HUL_News) March 7, 2019
Gillette made waves with its new commercial- “We Believe”. With the tagline, ‘Toxic masculinity’ the ad addressed social issues like sexual harassment and the #MeToo movement. The ad was both praised and criticized at the same time. One set of people voiced their support for the bold move while another set threatened to boycott Gillette and the parent company Procter and Gamble, saying it was insulting for the men.
I've used @Gillette razors my entire adult life but this absurd virtue-signalling PC guff may drive me away to a company less eager to fuel the current pathetic global assault on masculinity.
Let boys be damn boys.
Let men be damn men. https://t.co/Hm66OD5lA4
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 14, 2019
Well, the brand is no mood to undo the spot, “We expected debate. Actually, a discussion is necessary. If we don’t discuss and don’t talk about it, I don’t think real change will happen,” Pankaj Bhalla, Gillette’s North America brand director.
The ride-hailing giant Uber is also acquainted with the ugly side of social media. Last year, Uber bagged Virat Kohli as its brand ambassador. The new ad campaign- ‘Badhte Chalo’ did not go well with the users. The advertisement shared on multiple platforms. Some of the Twitterati backlashed by asking questions like- where is the brand fit? Why would Virat Kohli hail a cab service which he is urging others to take?
The list is never-ending. Social media is a perfect platform to market one’s product but you never know, which tweet may trigger the wrong spot. So, its always advisable to recheck all your marketing strategies twice, thrice or maybe 10 times before launching..The extra time is always better than the raged criticisms and the harm that follows that.