Zomato and Cult.fit’s mistakes are lessons for the advertising industry
From being sensitive towards brand purpose to looking carefully at legal nitty-gritty while creating a campaign, the advertising world can’t afford to make mistakes
Advertising is a tricky business; it’s not just about selling a product or service but also about creativity and authenticity. Time and again, even the most viral and successful of the ads have been challenged by the critics and the masses for various reasons; be it copyright infringements or insensitive portrayals, or creating a faux image of the brand, and sometimes promising much more than a product can afford to deliver. The last week also saw two such instances when two popular brands and their seemingly creative ads faced wraths of different orders, delivering some lessons for the advertising community.
Zomato’s ‘tone deaf’ attempt to make heroes out of their delivery partners
After its recent IPO, it could be argued that Zomato is an impressive success story of a homegrown brand that made a great mark for itself. Exceptional, need-based services, paired with scintillating marketing efforts, and a digital media presence that any brand would envy, Zomato has succeeded in creating a clout of its own. But this success and fame did not come without its own share of controversies -- the biggest, probably, being its treatment of its delivery partners.
Despite many sincere appeals to @harshamjty and @deepigoyal to engage in a productive and relevant discussion to address the real dangers faced by the delivery community in our country, they & their official handles have ignored on our collective voices. It's time to up the ante.— Delivery Bhoy (@DeliveryBhoy) July 29, 2021
And that’s why its recent campaign, starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, which the brand says was an attempt to show the delivery partners as heroes, drew a lot of flak from the netizens.
The internet teamed up against the brand for its ‘tone deaf’ and ‘insensitive’ portrayal of the delivery partners.
This ad disturbed me. We don't need to glorify people rushing to deliver food. Or condescend to them and make it out to be heroic. Service providers need to come back to Earth.— Kajol Srinivasan (@LOLrakshak) August 27, 2021
There is no problem in this ad, there is simple #Maths .— A A Das (@AADas50762963) September 5, 2021
How much money @zomato gave to these #bollywoodstars ?
How much #money Zomato gives to real life #deliveryguy ?#zomato #Controversy @iHrithik #HrithikRoshan #KatrinaKaif #ad pic.twitter.com/WNwBg8rD7r
I usually order #food and I give Prasad and Tips to #Zomato delivery boys and they neither called me #star nor said they are in hurry. They just accepted it. Y #Zomato keeps hurting people's #feelings and do he really don't have 1 minute 2 take #selfie ?https://t.co/e5wFhKl29V pic.twitter.com/JJtS2wb4O2— A A Das (@AADas50762963) September 5, 2021
The brand soon came up with a clarification, also explaining how they have revised their remuneration policies for the delivery partners, but the internet doesn’t seem to be buying it as well.
"It's not me, it's you" ?— Michele Mary Bernadine (@Michele__MB) August 30, 2021
All you had to say was we will treat our workers better and pay them better and we are sorry our ads were inconsiderate, but you went with "Sorry not sorry". C L A S S I C. pic.twitter.com/ywjFXdkd9q
The ad becomes a case study in how brands cannot ride a purpose for marketing unless they themselves don’t stand for it. The consumers are quick to see through the bluffs and have all the tools at their disposal to call the brand out.
Cult.fit’s infringement of Yash Raj Film’s copyrights
Cult.fit released some interesting and hilarious ads, driving inspiration from popular Bollywood movies to drive the message of how fitness is not an option. While the ads impressed the netizens for their creative treatment, the brand had to pull down one of the spots as Yash Raj Films flagged it for violating their copyright.
The scene was taken from the cult classic Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, produced by Yash Raj Films, wherein the cast is seen reprising the famous climax of the movie -- Simarn running towards the train to meet Raj. The interesting twist introduced by the brand is that the female protagonist here was too unfit to get onto that train and had to tell her partner that she will catch the next train to meet him the next day.
While the attempt was interesting the brand made a serious mistake of not reaching out to original creators for rights.
However, the ad was once again put online with a disclaimer, along with another spot that put a twist to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’s (ZNMD) last scene ‘The Bull race.’ It features comedians Rahul Subramanian, Aadar Malik and Rahul Dua as Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol. However, this time they did not forget to put a disclaimer.
Reacting to the controversy, a cult.fit spokesperson said, "At cult.fit, our focus through various marketing campaigns has been to resonate with our audience and create something relatable and memorable. We often lean on popular culture which has time and again proven to be impactful. We've taken a similar approach for our latest campaign - ‘Fitness is not an option’. Both ads were produced and released after all due diligence done from our end. The response has been exceptional overall. The first ad film is also back on air now and our campaign will continue as planned. We have sorted the issue out with YRF amicably and then taken the ad up again.”
Brands and agencies must be vary of using direct or indirect references to copyrighted materials while working on their campaigns or even a good attempt can fall to ditches.
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