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Zomato takes down controversial ad after public outcry

01-December-2017
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Zomato takes down controversial ad after public outcry

To break through the clutter, brands sometimes choose to communicate in a style that borders on the unusual.

Take the case of the recent outdoor ad campaign by online food ordering and delivery app, Zomato. Its recent ad campaign is rather bold by Indian standards and such has been the extent of outcry that Zomato eventually decided to take down the particular ad.
According to critics, the particular ad campaign glorified Indian expletives as it mentioned words like MC (mac n' cheese) BC (butter chicken) in what was a clear albeit fizzled out attempt at connecting with the millennials.

While few were seen complimenting the clever use of words and medium, others expressed their discomfort around the ads, labelling them as ‘sexist’ and ‘offensive’. 
Pradeep Dwivedi, CEO of Sakal Media, also expressed his views on how Zomato as a brand leader should have been more sensible on not taking over such sexist abuses for promotions. Dwivedi said on Twitter, “@zomato Pretty cheeky but low ball campaign..this is not a chutzpah..this is Idiotic and sanctifying an expletive used commonly but never with intent of interpretation!! Sad what one does to be noticed!! #BeBetter.
Commentator and author Suhel Seth also took to Twitter to criticise Zomato for what he terms a 'shameful' ad. He even tagged Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani as well as the Advertising Standards Council of India in the tweet.

With word play, witty creatives, puns about pop culture and political pinches, while the campaign managed to grab eyeballs of commuters in metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, they ended up offending others. Realising that the ad didn’t go down well with people, Zomato ‎Co-Founder, Pankaj Chaddah tweeted saying, “Hey, while we didn’t mean to, we can see why it can be offensive to people, and we apologise for it. We will take this ad down with immediate effect.”
Industry people who spoke to exchange4media said that while the ad may have elicited anger and offended people, it did end up creating conversations for the brand. 
Manish Bhatt, Founder Director, Scarecrow Communication, says that the wit and cleverness of the brand needs to be acknowledged. “As an industry perspective, it is a pure example of yellow journalism with the indulgence of advertising in it. They have used topical and popular phrases and tried to connect with variants in today’s transitional method. The idea has actually worked as it is quickly noticeable, catchy, sensational but disruptive as well,” says Bhatt.

He pointed out that noticeability is a factor that pulls people to check out your brand. “Noticeablility brings people to come and check your brand but as long as stickiness to the brand is concerned I don’t think so they have achieved it like Amul has from the last 50 years. However, I will definitely appreciate the cleverness Zomato has used in picking up a mixed culture,” he adds.



Manveer Singh Malhi, Head - Digital, iGenero, seconds that as he said, "A lot of people have highly applauded the app on social channels and it has definitely generated a lot of eyeballs, visibility and impressions for the brand on social media." He also points out that the brand’s target group is young and this subject works for them. Apart from that, Malhi lauds how the brand escaped the cookie-cutter OOH advertising ways and dared to break away from the clutter.”It’s interesting to see that usually for outdoor and print communications, brands have a direct approach but Zomato dared to go quirky,” he says.

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