The heart of the matter

| Updated on January 10, 2021

For Fortune, a brand celebrating its 20th anniversary, it was a rude shock to become the butt of social media ridicule last week.

Cricketer Sourav Ganguly has been the face of Fortune oil’s healthy heart campaigns, and when Dada had a mild heart attack, social media users began trolling the brand for its claims of providing immunity. After initial silence, the promoters of the brand, the Adanis, issued a statement saying Ganguly would remain their ambassador.

But is there a broader lesson on how brands should deal with such unforeseen situations? “Brands need to listen to social media but they need not react. If they can come with a smart repartee it will be great. If not, just lie low till the news cycle changes,” advises veteran adman Ambi Parameswaran. “Public memory is short. Radio silence is a good device to employ. In two or three months the brand can be active again with new messaging. Accenture had the same problem with Tiger Woods [after the golfer became embroiled in a personal scandal]. But they pivoted to a new campaign,” he points out.

On the other hand, veteran marketer Sandip Ghose feels the way for brands to deal with it is to take it head on — with humour and facts. “Supplement it with data or details — indirectly through PR or influencers, countering incorrect insinuations. For example, in this case the approach could have been to 1) Wish Sourav a speedy recovery; 2) Give a subtle and clever twist by hinting how he got away easily and, therefore, the importance of taking care of your heart; 3) Start a campaign to say what else you need to do besides having Fortune oil for a healthy heart (including regular check-ups).”

In short, the Adanis need not be hostage to fortune but use the opportunity.

Published on January 10, 2021

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