afaqs! news bureau

Zomato mocks its critics with apology

The irrepressible food discovery and delivery brand has withdrawn its controversial MC BC ad but used the occasion to offer a 10 per cent cashback. The joke is in the promo code.

In the face of fierce social media outrage, Zomato has withdrawn its MC BC outdoor ad (which purportedly stood for ‘mac n’ cheese’ as well as ‘butter chicken’) within days of its release.

A tweet from zomato says that it is replacing the ad with a more acceptable ad, ‘tennu fruit suit karda?’ To prove that it has learnt its lesson, says the tweet, Zomato is offering a 10 per cent cash back. The promo code? OUTRAGE!

Zomato seems comfortable with controversy and probably welcomes it. That would explain its choice of outdoor media for an in-your-face campaign. The marketing team presumably reasons that its audience – especially for home delivery – is young, informal and will find the communication amusing rather than offensive.

Zomato mocks its critics with apology

Zomato's outdoor ad - MC. BC. which was discontinued after receiving negative comments on social media

The most strident critics of Zomato’s recent word play have been middle-aged or older. So, the brand is cleverly going through the motion of appearing repentant but seems to be laughing quietly as evidenced by its choice of OUTRAGE as the promo code.

This is not the first time that Zomato has apologised for its advertising. In 2015, the brand made a bold move by advertising on porn sites such as Pornhub and Xvideos. It used sexual puns against photos of food and managed to attract countless eyeballs and the company on its official blog, went on to write about why was it a successful, cost-effective campaign.

Zomato mocks its critics with apology

A screenshot of Zomato's 2015 ads which were put up on Pornhub and Xvideos

Back then too the company had received flak on social media and, within a couple of days, the company had withdrawn those ads. In a blog post, the company's co-founder and CEO, Deepinder Goyal, had said, “The response to the campaign was largely positive. People said we were ballsy for trying this at all, and that we broke new ground for doing this in a country where porn has long been a touchy topic. But there were a few things said that we simply couldn’t ignore. Some folks got offended by the campaign, felt the campaign was in poor taste, and it wasn’t something they expected from a brand of our standard. Some also said that all porn is not legal, and by advertising on porn websites, we are financially supporting abuse – certainly something we don’t want to do. Ever.”

“For a start, we’re killing the porn site campaign, because we sense we crossed the fine line between marketing irreverence and cultural insensitivity. If we did, and ended up offending or disrespecting anyone in any way at all, we are sorry. That obviously wasn’t the intention, and we’ll work on doing things better in the future”, he added.

See the similarity? In both cases, the Zomato campaign drew enormous attention and controversy and this was quickly followed by an apology. By then the advertising had done its job.

Provoking ‘Outrage’ seems to be working perfectly well for Zomato.

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