Building brands is not a child's play these days -- they have to be bold to be heard. But crossing the line can backfire.
An Indian unicorn, for instance, is facing backlash on social media over its decision to promote its brand via an advertisement that many perceive portrays the workplace exploitation of its workers.
The ad featuring Bollywood stars Hritwik Roshan and Katrina Kaif has definitely given leading food delivery giant Zomato an edge over others in the competition for attention, but it has triggered widespread derision.
The first ad shows Katrina opening the door for a Zomato delivery professional. After taking the delivery of a cake, she asks the Zomato man to wait for a slice, but he gets another notification for delivery and leaves.
The second ad is almost similar, only that the Zomato delivery executive has to forgo an opportunity to take a selfie with Hritwik after handing him over a food bowl. "For us, every customer is a star," says the tagline.
While the Twitterati has slammed Zomato for glorifying the poor working conditions of the delivery professionals, the unicorn says the ad is aimed at making the delivery men "the hero".
"This ad disturbed me. We don't need to glorify people rushing to deliver food. Or condescend to them and make it out to be heroic. Service providers need to come back to Earth," K Srinivasan tweeted.
"So the message here is what? That @zomato delivery guys work under such pressures and time constraints that one can't even wait 10 seconds for a selfie with a superstar. And that's a work culture they are proud of having?" tweeted Gaurav.
"Zomato spends crores on Hrithik instead of giving raise to deliver personnel," wrote another social media user.
Zomato has also put out its version of the controversy. "We believe that our ads are well-intentioned, but were unfortunately misinterpreted by some people," it said in its statement on Twitter.
The controversy erupts barely a month after Zomato became India's first new-age technology unicorn to list on the bourses, scripting a stellar debut that could lute similar consumer start-ups to go public.
The company, backed by Jack Ma's Ant Group, in fact, rode on the Covid outbreak that has prompted a trend of people moving to order food items online the world over.
Such was the fantabulous listing on July 23 -- true to hype -- that Zomato's market capitalisation breached 12 billion US dollar mark in the first hour itself, making it one of the 50 most valuable traded firms.