Scarred by boycotts, ad industry treads cautiously this festival season

Advertisers are treading cautiously on social messaging this festive season, scarred by last year’s boycott campaigns.

From Dabur Fem’s Karwa Chauth campaign, to Fabindia’s Jashn-e-Riwaaz campaign, some companies were forced to apologise and take down ads last year after a backlash from social media users. Those memories have remained fresh in the minds of ad executives, say industry insiders and experts.

Brands need to also ask themselves if they are the right people to speak on social issues, says Rahul Mathew, Chief Creative Officer, DDB Mudra Group. “If your social messaging is only being done to catch eyeballs, you’re often the first to blink when you feel the glare of detractors. So it’s important to ask yourself if your brand has the right to speak on the issue and do the actions of the company make it strong enough to carry its burden. Else, you’re not just opening your brand to a lot of undesirable PR but also cost it business in terms of festive sales,” says Mathew.

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