Restaurant discovery and food ordering app Zomato found itself surrounded by allegations and outrage on social media when its new controversial outdoor ad campaign began. People called it “vulgar”, “sickened”, “outrageous” and Zomato’s cheap attempt to gain publicity.
Shame on you @ZomatoIN ! Absolutely shameful what you’ve attempted to do. Your investors should be sickened by your behaviour! @smritiirani : this is outrageous. @ascionline pic.twitter.com/pSChhHSrxo
— SUHEL SETH (@suhelseth) November 30, 2017
The controversial ad written by Akshar Pathak, Zomato’s art director has bold white letters MC. BC. for mac & cheese and butter chicken written in white bold against a red background. The ad highlights these Hindi language expletives to attract attention, which eventually did, but not in the expected mood.
People all over social media have been calling it “cheap”, “sexist” and “vulgar” and criticize the move. The ad clearly hurts the cultural sentiments of the people, questioning the authorities how they let these hoardings to be installed in the first place.
Apart from the controversial ad, the campaign takes inspiration from elements from pop culture using quirky lines like “Acche din are finally here, Bol Baby Bol, Malai Tikka Roll!”
— Shivam Vij (@DilliDurAst) November 30, 2017
These outdoor ads, executed by Madison and Outdoor Advertising Professionals (OAP), an outdoor agency, have been put up across multiple cities, including in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Kolkata, among others.
“There is an extremely thin line between cool and crass. I think the Zomato campaign has crossed that line. It is an unnecessary campaign done by a trigger-happy executive within Zomato and the damage it has done to the brand is far greater than all the good the company has done in the market so far,” said Swapan Seth, chief executive at advertising agency Equus.
As per the ad experts, MC BC are not positive attributes and companies should not inculcate these in their ads to hide behind the cheap humor. The incident is a clear message to startups and companies that they better understand the line between cool and crass.