Tanishq caught in troll crossfire again over Diwali ad

Nandana James Mumbai | Updated on November 10, 2020

Twitter users slam Tata company for ad that calls for ‘firecracker-free’ Diwali

 It’s déjà vu for Tanishq. Barely had the dust settled from the controversy over the jewellery brand’s commercial for  new line Ekatvam, when yet another ad that is part of the same creative set, has created a huge furore. This time, the social media outrage was triggered by actor Sayani Gupta’s statement in its new Diwali ad campaign, “Definitely no firecrackers — I don’t think anyone should light firecrackers (this Diwali).”

All hell broke loose as BJP National General Secretary Chikkamagaravalli Thimme Gowda Ravi tweeted: “Why should anyone advise Hindus how to celebrate our Festivals? Companies must focus on selling their products, not lecture us to refrain from bursting Crackers.”

Filmmaker Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri fuelled the fire when he sarcastically tweeted, “This Diwali, let’s kill tradition, Hindu culture and promote consumerism…”


On the other hand, Ambi Parameswaran, former chief executive officer of FCB-Ulka Advertising, felt that there was nothing wrong in Gupta’s statement in the ad. “Discouraging the use of firecrackers is something even schools in big cities have been preaching for a decade,” he said.

The ad, however, vanished from Twitter.

Is silence golden?

It was Tanishq’s act of seemingly giving in to the social media backlash that drew the ire of commentators. Giraj Sharma, founder director of Behind the Moon, a brand consultancy rued, “It reflects a propensity to give in for peace in the short term over long-term gains in terms of building a solid customer constituency.”

Anuj Kapoor, Assistant Professor of Marketing, IIM-Ahmedabad, said taking the ad down will show Tanishq as either a “weak” brand or it might gain sympathy as a “victim” brand that was bullied.

Instead of resorting to taking down the ad, brands will need to learn to handle trolls, said Naresh Gupta, co-founder and chief strategy officer, Bang In The Middle. “You should never take it down unless you believe that it is a wrong communication.”

Gupta also highlighted the role that Twitter needs to play in such cases. “If Twitter can moderate the statements of Donald Trump, it can start doing the same for others, too,” he said. “I would think that days are not far when some brand decides to take action and sues the platforms for causing damage and harm to the brand’s image,” said Gupta.

“We live in a world where you tend to get lost in the crowd if you do not take a stance or take a middle ground. Folks want to be in the clear as to what their stated position as a brand is. Yes, there will be times when a brand will be pulled in to something that's controversial, but then such testing situations are opportunities that leapfrog brands to the next level,” said Behind the Moon’s Sharma, He cited the examples of Nike's 'Don't Do it' stance against race-based crimes, as well as the position taken by Apple on customer's privacy issue wherein it “stood up against the might of a powerful government because it believed in protecting customer's privacy and data as a basic brand promise”.
IIM-A’s Kapoor meanwhile also wondered why once bitten, Tanishq had not turned twice shy.

“I don't see why they would release an ad with a similar flavour again,” he said. They could have experimented the ad on a subset of population, gauged their response and then released it country-wide and this would have been the “real” listening and not the post-hoc listening to the consumers, he added.

Kapoor suggests a framework that firms can follow before releasing ads. They should test it on a small audience before running it and then releasing it country-wide. “If the ad still doesn't get the expected response, tinker your strategy and that involves taking it down as well… all these steps are sequential and have to be followed one after the other in a sequence.”
If Tanishq had followed the first three steps of this 'TEST' framework (and not jumped to the very last one), they would have saved themselves the embarrassment and backlash, said Kapoor.

Finally, it may be much ado over nothing as the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recommended a ban on firecrackers in select cities citing poor air quality.

Published on November 09, 2020

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