How do boycott trends on social media impact brands?

With Dream11 being the latest brand to have faced the boycott trend on social media, experts believe a brand's comeback from negative publicity would depend on its credibility

e4m by Shreshtha Verma
Updated: Oct 17, 2019 9:30 AM

While it takes much effort and years of unfaltering perseverance to build a brand. But, it could take just a few social media rants by consumers for it to create a massive corporate crisis. There has been a growing trend of lashing out at brands on social media platforms, such as #Boycottjio, #BoycottBiggboss, #BoycottZomato #boycottSnapchat #boycottredlabel, #boycottsurfexcel #boycottmaggi, #boycottOYO, with the latest being #boycottdream11 as Dream11 was called out on Twitter for supporting Pakistan T20 on their apps.

While #boycottSnapchat caused a lot of harm to the brand in terms of revenue, #boycottMaggi divided social media users into two groups: supporters and opponents of Maggi.

Unlike other social media boycotts, #boycottMaggi helped the brand to achieve the next level of popularity even during the crisis.

There are many brands that made a comeback even after being boycotted in the public space such as, Samsung, Cadbury, Coca-cola, Maggi etc. We spoke to industry experts about how social media boycotts result in good publicity and help in boosting the sales/revenue for brands.

Some experts believe a brand's ability to bounce back from negative publicity and boycotts depends on its credibility

"There is no denying the fact that negative publicity spreads like fire in contact with spirit while positive publicity advances like a hangover from the same spirit," said, Kaushlendra Singh Sengar, Founder & CEO,

Sengar continued, "Yes sometimes ad campaigns go and turn into a massive corporate crisis but in a lot of cases, brands use negative publicity as a marketing tool too. Who wouldn’t want a method which is capable of attracting large masses quickly and could help you to cut your chunk of funds in brand promotion along with increasing the total sales of the company?” However, Sengar suggested, the tool should be used with enough precautions.

Harish Bijoor, Brand Expert & Founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc., is opposed to the belief that negative publicity is good publicity. Bijoor said, "Brands love the positive and hate the negative. Hashtags that berate and negate the brand do lots more harm and lots less good".

According to Ranjan Bargotra, President, Crayons Advertising, negative publicity is good only in cases where a controversy starts a debate and there are supporters of both points of view. He believes that negative publicity is not always good, but it depends on brands and the crisis.

“If it's just a debate among the consumers then there is no harm because, in the end, the brand is being talked about. But if a brand is being boycotted on the social media for hurting consumer sentiments, the brand will surely have to pay for it”, he said.

“However, these boycott trends on social media are not a debate among consumers but it's a one-sided criticism, where consumers stand against the brand”, explained Bargotra.

“A boycott call is surely damaging, if not to sales but to the brand image. This can assume alarming proportions in social media nowadays and should be controlled at any cost”, he added.

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