Madhuwanti Saha
Points of View

What if you were in-charge of ad campaigns for Domino's, Air India, after the recent data breach?

That’s what we asked a bunch of senior creative executives. Read on to know their take on the media strategy these brands ought to take.

Over the last few days brands like Domino’s and Air India have been in the news for matters pertaining to data breach. Brands like Facebook, LinkedIn and BigBasket have also been in the news recently regarding cyberattacks that have compromised the privacy of users’ data.

Does advertising have a role to play in the aftermath of such events? Can celebrities help the damage control process?

As per a recent report by brand consultancy Interbrand and IT giant Infosys, the top 100 ‘Most Valued Brands’ risk losing up to a whopping $223 billion, due to such breaches of data.

If brands in the middle of such a storm were to advertise, what should the campaign look like? What should the message be?

We spoke to some creative executives and asked them a hypothetical question – what would you do if you were in-charge of these accounts? What should the ad campaigns of brands in the midst of such a storm look like?

Edited excerpts.

Satbir Singh, founder and CCO, Thinkstr

Satbir Singh
Satbir Singh

Agencies work to briefs. If the client, in each case, feels that their image and brand has taken a beating that is strong enough for them to address it, the campaigns would definitely talk about it. Yes, often, a celebrity known for trust and honest values can be deployed (remember Amitabh Bachchan from Cadbury, for instance).

If there's no huge uproar, a PR exercise alone may offset it.

Sumanto Chattopadhyay, chairman and CCO, 82.5 Communications

Sumanto Chattopadhyay
Sumanto Chattopadhyay

My policy would be to come clean, apologise, and reassure customers by talking about the mitigating factors (the sensitive data that hasn't been leaked). The brand has to come up with a convincing statement about the measures taken to ensure multiple layers of protection and security and ensure it never happens again.

I would urge the company head to come out and talk about steps being taken. For instance, if the brand has appointed a data security officer to work on finding and plugging possible loopholes, then that would be the campaign's cornerstone.

Regarding the duration, in the beginning the campaign should run at least for three months. Initially, it should be on mass media; it can be played on digital platforms later to communicate to the stakeholders that the brand is committed to this.

The data security officer will continue to build on the system. So, every time a layer of security is added to improve the system (like Apple or Android) the team could do a post on it and talk about it on the website, to show that it is not getting complacent.

Parixit Bhattacharya, managing partner–creative, TBWA\India

Parixit Bhattacharya
Parixit Bhattacharya

A good first step would be to own the debacle and then outline the measures taken to contain the situation. Then reassure customers with steps taken to avoid any such event in the future.

Ideally, use the print medium for the above. Then Domino's can probably bring back Paresh Rawal (its brand ambassador in 2003-04 and 2017) to front a reassurance campaign. And, while running this campaign, they can execute a secure data story-led PR push.

Rohit Malkani, national creative director, L&K Saatchi & Saatchi

Rohit Malkani
Rohit Malkani

They are dealing with a serious issue. Today if my personal data was leaked, I am not sure any celebrity would reassure me. It is a grave breach of trust from two massive brands, and no celebrity is going to assuage my mistrust.

To me, it's far more about PR activity than advertising. But if an ad campaign has to come out, it needs to be very honest, straight from the heart. I think a hard-hitting tactical campaign from the top brass of Domino’s and Air India is required. Talk straight, come clean and tell people what measures you are taking going forward. It should run at best for a month. They should run it with high frequency and high visibility.

It's similar to those telly evangelists in the US who have a rollicking affair and then appear on national television to 'confess' and seek forgiveness!

At the end of the day, these are both ‘lovemark’ brands. People will forgive and move on and trust them again if they show genuine intent and not pay someone (read: celebrity) to say lovely things about them.

Titus Upputuru, creative head, Taproot Dentsu, Gurugram, and national creative director, Dentsu One

Titus Upputuru
Titus Upputuru

Before jumping in to offer solutions, I would engage in getting as much as data on a sensitive issue like data breaches, especially in the light of the recent controversy around WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook in India.

I prefer to listen to what Domino's has to say – not in the press, but over a private zoom call. I would like to understand their core issue and go under the car, as David Abbott says.

Cover image courtesy: Dlanor S on Unsplash