Zomato and some more brands that dealt with mangled crisis head-on

The way a brand reclaims itself after a crisis says a lot about it. From the Maggi meltdown to Cadbury winning the battle of worms, these brands examples show the way to conquering crisis like a boss.

e4m by Misbaah Mansuri
Updated: Dec 5, 2017 8:55 AM


While it takes reams of research and years of unfaltering perseverance to build a brand, it could take just a few social media rants by consumers or an ad campaign gone wrong for it to turn into a massive corporate crisis. The recent spate of fiascos by brands like IndiGo, BMW and Zomato will say a thing or two about it. While the former brands took a while to respond, Zomato’s instant response and strategies comes across as impressive.

The online food ordering and delivery app’s recent outdoor ad campaign got everyone talking. One such quirky ad was MC.BC. (mac n' cheese, butter chicken) which didn’t go well with a couple of people. Angry netizens lashed out at the same, following which Pankaj Chaddah, the co-founder of Zomato apologized and assured that they would take the ad down immediately.

The negative publicity was dealt by the brand head-on and not denied. Apart from that, the brand also tweeted the new ad they rolled out to replace the old one and acknowledged their mistake in a quirky way, but adding that users can avail a 10% cash-back by using the promo code OUTRAGE. It was interesting to note that while the remaining letters in cash-back were in low caps, the b and c were in capital, playing on the slang BC that had stirred the controversy.

N Chandramouli, CEO, TRA says that the brand turned around the fiasco that flared up in a bold way. “The brand is only taking their journey to the next level as they are sticking to the brand proposition and speaking the brand language in a smart way,” he explains. Chandramouli believes it takes big courage for a brand to try something like this. “More and more brands need to learn from Zomato and stick to the ethos of the brand. You can’t change your personality due to other people’s reactions,” he concludes.

Jagdeep Kapoor, Chairman and Managing Director, Samsika opines that in advertising, a brand should only attract and not distract. “Zomato being a good brand, it’s important that they stay away from controversies.” says Kapoor. That being said, a number of brands find themselves in the throes of such crisis but very few convert such crisis into opportunities to build the brand up. These five brands conquered crisis like a boss and have set an example for others.


The crisis: Within weeks of launching its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note 7, the company had to recall all of the more than 3 million devices it had sold, after reports of overheating and exploding batteries.

How Samsung responded: The company announced a global recall of around 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 phones. They eventually discontinued the production and sale of the device. With a bold decision like this one, their action showed that at the risk of immediate impact on top-line revenue, the company treated its consumers like precious entities and put them first. The brand also built a new test lab and staffed it with 700 researchers, 200,000 devices and 30,000 to replicate the cause of fire. They created a battery advisory group and gave all the processes a boost ensuring that the next set of phones will be the company’s most highly-tested ones.

Nestlé' Maggi noodles

The crisis: The noodles contained higher than permitted levels of lead.

How Maggi responded: Through smart use of social media during the crisis, the brand limited further damage by reassuring and informing customers to encourage them to continue buying the noodles in the future. Maggi India Twitter account also made an impressive effort to respond to every tweet from customers on this issue with a pre-prepared statement explaining that lead occurs naturally in soil and water. Nestle explained the science behind the reason for the ban in simple terms so customers could understand. By June 2016, Maggi noodles had climbed back to a 57 per cent market share, a remarkable comeback indeed.


The crisis: There were complaints against the brand with regards to infestation in two bars of Cadbury Dairy Milk.

How Cadbury responded: Cadbury invested up to Rs 15 crore (Rs 150 million) on imported machinery, Cadbury's revamped the packaging of Dairy Milk. The metallic poly-flow, was costlier by 10-15 per cent, but Cadbury didn't hike the pack price. Apart from that, the brand ensured tremendous investment (in terms of money and time) in the new packaging, media campaigns, and retailer outreach programs. Roping in a trusted face, Amitabh Bachan as their brand ambassador, the brand won the battle of worms.

Coca-Cola India

The crisis: In 2003, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), issued a release, which stated that, “12 major cold drink brands sold in and around Delhi contain a deadly cocktail of pesticide residues.”

How Coca-Cola responded: While all the safety requirements were being complied with, Coke decided to run campaigns to gain back public confidence. They ran different campaigns in rural and urban India. In rural India where the drink was considered a luxury, they launched the small bottle of Coke for half the price that allowed the rural consumer to enjoy what was considered a treat.

Johnson & Johnson

The crisis:
Johnson & Johnson faced a crisis where its sealed bottles were tinkered with. There were seven people who died after consuming the pill, which was laced with cyanide. It was reported that an unknown suspect put the cyanide in these bottles. The person behind the poisoning was never found.

How Johnson & Johnson responded: The company put their consumers first. They pulled 31 million bottles of Tylenol off shelves, worth $100 million. They also stopped all manufacture and marketing of the product. The company involved with the Chicago Police, FBI, and FDA in the search for the killer, and offered a $100,000 reward. Post-crisis, the company reintroduced the drug on the market with new tamper-resistant packaging and discount coupons worth $2.50.

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