Key Learnings from failed Indian Social Media Campaigns

Although, Social Media has contributed in a big way to the success of various brands but the social media marketing landscape is also littered with stories of failed campaigns. Few of the campaigns which failed and have a few learning takeaways have been described below.

  1. Starbucks India:

This incidence had hit the online reputation of Starbucks with a viral rage. Arman Kapur, a writer and designer was refused entry and later asked to step far away from the store by bouncers when he visited the Starbucks Delhi store along with a friend. This irritated customer posted about the experience on the Starbucks Delhi page on 7th february and the post triggered 5100+ likes and 250+ comments. Instead of taking note of this complaint and taking corrective action, Starbucks deleted the post 5 days later from its facebook page on the 12th of February. This triggered a furore on facebook and twitter with about 300 related tweets (including retweets) making this event about the arrogance of Starbucks reach to thousands of people.

The key takeways from this incidence are that the brand should have had a personal discussion with the customer and apologised for its behaviour and requested him to remove the post. Further, Starbucks could have taken a written apology of the bouncers and shared with the customer. This would have definitely helped correct and may be even improve the brand image of Starbucks India

2. Volkswagen India:

Volkswagen India was looking for innovative ways of marketing Polo and Vento to differentiate its products from the clutter. In order to excite customers to book a test drive, it took out a full page ad with the message ‘Feel the shiver of excitement?’ First the message of ‘the shiver of excitement’ and then the vibrator on the back coupled to form a classic case of brand miscommunication. There were many tweets about the shiver not working for them. The company later tweeted back regarding the ‘mis-understanding’ calling women dumb and with a #PunIntended hashtag. This tweet got a bitter backlash and was quickly deleted by Volkswagon

The Key Takeaways from this were that the brand should have apologized for its tweet. Zero communication is even worse in social media. They did apologize after 3 days which was too late.

3. Pepsi India:

Akshar, a creative designer from india, started his Sunday Morning seeing one of his works being used by Pepsi India. One of his works related to Sholay’s character Sambha was used by the brand on their facebook page. He posted the content on Facebook and Twitter as well and left the people to decide. And in no time, the Facebook post got several supporters. Pepsi without wasting any time jumped into the action, contacted Akshar and deleted the post.

Key takeways from this were that the brand should have checkpoints at multiple levels to vet the content being published. Also, as Pepsi India did in this case, the brand should be quick to apologise and own up in case of any mistake. This really helps in building up the right image of the brand.


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