The incident has rekindled the debate on whether brand ambassadors are liable when the products they endorse start circling the drain. Reactions and lessons.
Every now and then, the spotlight comes back onto the trappings of stardom. Last year, when Maggi found itself in a muddle, we explored whether celebrities are in any way liable if the products they associate themselves with fail to deliver on the very promise they're employed to convey. This time, we re-examine the subject with a Dhoni-shaped lens.
Indian cricketer Mahendra Singh Dhoni recently resigned as the brand ambassador of Amrapali, a real estate company, following a social media 'campaign' (#AmrapaliMisuseDhoni) initiated by miffed consumers, because several projects taken up by the group have been stalled. Few trolled him, while others implored him to disassociate himself from the brand.
Some questions emerged as well. Is social media the villain here? Have we, as a people, become intolerant? Are celebrities soft targets?
Sanjay Tripathy, senior EVP, marketing, products, digital and e-commerce, HDFC Life
In the future, with the government enforcing strict rules around endorsements, celebrities will need to do deeper research into the brands and business they select. They'll have to monitor the relationship on a regular basis in order to not get caught on the wrong foot.
Nima Namchu, chief creative officer, Havas Worldwide
Is it fair or unfair? It's part of the territory. I don't think celebrities can do anything to control the damage because the damage lies within the product. This issue is about commercial deals. Celebrities do have the stature to try and fix things, though.
Social media has given people an easy way to get back at brands and people. So, it is important for brands and companies to be careful about what they do. When consumers don't feel protected, as is the case when buying real estate, they take to social media to teach brands a lesson. One may call this intolerance.
Truth is, brands tend to follow up on complaints on Twitter; it's all about reputation.
Vibha Desai, independent brand consultant
That said, celebrities should do some analysis, check the company they are endorsing and not let it be only about the money. Your personal brand, eventually, has more to offer than just the monetary transaction. You stand for so many things and when you are trying to transfer those attributes to another brand, check it out and see what it means.
Generally speaking, people have become intolerant. Previously, you would write a letter to an editor which never got published. You were nobody. Today, everybody feels significant and they make edgy and vicious comments at times. It helps them stand out in the social media crowd.
Indranil Das Blah, founding partner CAA Kwan and chief executive officer, Mumbai City FC (ISL team)
Today, celebrities are accessible through social media. They can't do much to control the damage because by being on social media, you have agreed to give the masses that access.