It’s unfair when brands have to face the brunt of creatives they didn’t commission. Our guest author dissects a recent example.
Back in 2016, a Delhi-based content creation platform, called ScrollDroll, posted a creative graphic that portrayed a distressing scene from the Hindu epic Mahabharata, in which Dushasana disrobes Draupadi. In a very off-putting manner, Lord Krishna was shown using the popular e-commerce platform Myntra on a smartphone, searching for ‘extra-long sarees’.
Myntra was quick to discredit its name from any allegations regarding its participation in the creation of the graphic. It claimed it was not associated with the artwork, or ScrollDroll by any means. In a tweet, ScrollDroll accepted responsibility for the artwork and also confirmed that Myntra had no direct, or indirect links with the same.
Fast-forward to August 2021, the graphic has now popped up again, and become more apparent on major social networking platforms, such as Twitter, Instagram, etc. It has caused a whirlwind of angry emotions in the minds of netizens, who are calling Myntra a mascot for Hinduphobia and holding it responsible for hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community. #BoycottMyntra started trending on Twitter, with more than 10,000 tweets being circulated. The damage has already been done.
With social media wielding the power it does currently, brands have no option than to respond swiftly and decisively to limit the damage. Needless to mention, social media is very different and has a stronger and farther reach than most forms of media and therefore, brands need to be at the forefront of sharing appropriate information with transparency and clarity. It’s akin to having to participate in an aggressive trial by media. Brands that have maintained a silence in times such as these have usually suffered extensively.
Secondly, in stressful situations like this, brands do hope to get support from those that love the brand. Influencers or brand evangelists if you were to call some of them. Brands under attack may also do well to seek out support from a few of these and perhaps, a few trusted ‘influencers’ too.
Since most consumers don’t know the difference between content created by the brand themselves and any other entity due to the name/logo being used in both, there is going to be impact faced directly by the brand. This naturally exposes the brand to a whole lot of misleading and or inappropriate content as in the current case of Myntra.
Brands are willy-nilly pushed into a problem situation because of this nature of content - that passes off as an advertisements or social media posts. This is where brands may pursue legal action against such perpetrators and leave no stone unturned to go through with it so that people think twice before going ahead with such misdeeds, knowingly or unknowingly.
It’s also important for brands to have a ready plan to address any kind of controversy or challenge that may befall them? Have a predefined protocol set. Brands need to keep an eye open and be prepared beforehand in such cases since the identity that they have worked on and maintained tediously for so long can be crushed in moments and leave a bad taste and impression in the minds of existing and potential consumers.
It doesn’t take long for people to change their minds regarding a certain brand and to move on to other competitors’ products and services. It’s all about perception in the end.
Lastly, what is the likely eventual impact on the brand? In most cases, truth prevails. Consumers are not fools to get carried away. So long as the brand maintains a solid, consistent, coherent and transparent communication with consumers, it shall prevail. However, if there’s dishonesty, sooner or later the brand will face the brunt of it.
(The author is founder and CEO, Eggfirst Advertising, one hell of a Marwari-led advertising agency, based in Mumbai, with expertise in mainstream as well as digital marketing, especially at the cross-section of rural, digital and vernacular.)