Brands were back to the pre-pandemic period in 2021 adapting to their aggressive marketing strategies and the release of ad campaigns. Few of the ad campaigns with bold ideas fell flat bruising the product and campaign objective in question. From hurting religious sentiments to failing to adopt localization in the true sense, certain ads created uproar in the country.
The food delivery app Zomato landed in a soup with recent controversy where the app’s customer care executive has schooled a customer from Tamil Nadu that Hindi was India’s national language. Zomato faced backlashes on the social media platforms following which the food delivery app issued a public apology statement regretting the behaviour of the customer care agent and their negligence towards the diverse culture of the country.
Zomato also stated that they are building a Tamil version of the app and are in the process of building a local Tamil call/support centre in Coimbatore.
The designer brand Sabyasachi landed in trouble with its controversial Mangalsutra advertisement campaign.
The ad campaign depicted a woman wearing a low neckline dress with Mangalsutra and posing and in an intimate position with a man. The brand faced backlashes on social media platforms as well as from leading politicians.
The brand withdrew the campaign stating that it was deeply saddened that it had offended a section of society.
The Indian bike taxi aggregator Rapido’s new ad that featured Telugu actor Allu Arjun got into trouble with the Telangana State Road Transport Corporation (TSRTC) Managing Director VC Sajjanar IPS sending legal notices asking the firm to immediately withdraw the ad, as it portrays TSRTC in a bad light and thereby defaming the organization.
The ad that was released on YouTube shows Allu Arjun as a street-side Dosa vendor who is seen telling the customer by pointing to the crowded TSRTC bus that the TSRTC buses take more time to reach their destination, while commuting by Rapido bike is far more convenient and faster.
A civil court in Telangana ordered Rapido and YouTube to take down the ad.
Dabur was another brand that joined the bandwagon of controversial ads of 2021.
The ad with the tagline ‘Glow with Pride’ portrayed two women getting ready for Karva Chauth. The ad received online abuses and boycott Dabur trending on the social media platforms.
The brand took down the ad from all its social media handles and issued an apology.
The company on its official Twitter handle stated, “Fem’s Karwachauth campaign has been withdrawn from all social media handles and we unconditionally apologize for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments”.
Fabindia was embroiled in controversy for their clothing collection which was named “Jashn-e-Riwaaz”, a phrase that means “celebration of tradition” in Urdu.
Soon when the brand tweeted about their new collection, online abuses and trolls started pouring in accusing the clothing brand of damaging the Hindu festival Diwali.
FabIndia removed the tweet and pulled down the ad.
The advertisement by tyre manufacturer CEAT Ltd., featuring Bollywood actor Aamir Khan landed in a soup. In the ad, the actor has been advising people not to burst crackers on the street as he is addressing the concern of noise pollution.
Controversy erupted with BJP leader Anantkumar Hegde asking the company to also address the issue of blocking roads in the name of Namaz and noise emitted from mosques during Azan.