Arunabh Kumar recently got embroiled in a molestation case, inviting intense backlash for himself and TVF on social media. Social Samosa takes a look at how this crisis could have been handled better.
In the late hours of March 12, a user named Indian Fowler updated an article on Medium, titled, The Indian Uber – That is TVF. The rest as they say was history. Our beloved Yogi Bhaiyya of TVF Pitchers was splashed with murk. Not very colourful for Holi!
Close on the heels of the release of the blog, nine women came forward! And India’s finest start-up got embroiled in the biggest social media crisis of 2017. Biggest so far, of course!
TVF has been the creator of contemporary path-breaking content such as Permanent Roommates, Pitchers, and Tripling. Their content spoke about live-in relations, pre-marital sex, re-marriage, and other stigmas that India has been prone to. It was the creator of such liberating content in the stand. Fans were tweeting out to Kumar, hoping that he would come up with a proof or his side of story.
It was not just Arunabh Kumar at stake; it was TVF and they were at the risk of breaching the trust of their huge fan-base.
When the blog went live, TVF seemed to be banking on their goodwill to nullify or zero out the impact of the “fake” (since Team TVF was denying vehemently) blog. Even if they did spot the crisis, TVF didn’t anticipate the volume and intensity of the crisis.
Team TVF emerged in a series of random tweets, the official statement was a disaster, and the man in question, Arunabh Kuman, continued to maintain a deafening silence on Twitter. TVF was caught in the eye of the storm and was definitely not equipped to power through it.
What could have been done
After #BoycottTataSKy and other similar cases, it was only natural that TVF was headed towards a similar fate. First and the correct step would be to find out if the accused was really at fault. Conversations should have flown within, recollecting who the victim could have been or anticipating other cases that could crop up, and how they would maintain the trust of their fans irrespective of who the victim is.
The step involves activating loyalists; engaging with them and reinstating the trust they have in the brand. In case of TVF, their team were their first set of loyalists, unfortunately all of them appeared in different directions, with different arguments, creating little or no impact.
In the heat of the moment, Nidhi Bisht addressed the alleged victim as haters. Amit Golani used the content created by TVF as an argument, while Sumeet Vyas too denied the possibility of such a horrific act by Kumar.
5 yrs at TVF & no memory of who this Female employee is. It’s a baseless fictitious allegation. Haters pls don’t stoop down to this level :(
— Nidhi NEETU Bisht (@EkThapaTiger) March 13, 2017
@EkThapaTiger Nidhi, refusing to take allegations seriously is exactly what builds a company culture where such things happen unchecked :(
— Rega Jha (@RegaJha) March 13, 2017
Had TVF created a central voice from their official page or appointed an internal spokesperson to address the allegations, they could have used the arguments that each of these personalities presented individually.
Their second set of loyalists was the Content Creators’ and Comedians’ community – Tanmay Bhatt, Rohan Joshi, Aditi Mittal, a number of artists went on record to speak about the importance of a Redressal body at work, the sexist practices in the industry and mainly the “Dude-Bro” culture. Addressing these with constructive arguments would map TVF in a better position.
The third and the most important set of loyalists are their fans, who for the longest tweeted in favour of TVF and Arunabh Kumar. Acknowledging this with a promise of an unbiased investigation and TVF was golden.
Hey #TVF I just corrected your “official press release” …
— Rashi Kakkar (@rashi_kakkar) March 13, 2017
TVF was still swimming in the shallow end of the crisis pool, their official response however pushed TVF much deeper into it. The official response lacked empathy or any sense of remorse, that their actions or the accusations had caused pain to the alleged victims and their fans. It appeared to be a quick draft aimed only at proving Kumar’s innocence.
Only in her second statement on Facebook, Bisht clarified and used words judicially, promising an investigation. Actually, a better statement than what was released by TVF.
Kumar’s statement to Mumbai Mirror further fuelled the anger towards him and TVF. The quote didn’t show any sign of self reflection on Kumar’s part. Further, he made no attempt in clarifying or communicating with the victims, that his intention was not to offend them. His statement in the media attracted intense flak on social platforms.
Readers should note, when similar allegations were made against Seed Feed, Founder, Mahesh Murthy, he took to Medium, explaining his side of story in every case and every victim. Kumar could have taken a similar approach, it would add some perspective to the entire issue.
Why won’t Arunabh Kumar speak? Most internet game changers voice their opinions in quick time when it’s about someone else. This is weird!
— Danish Sait (@DanishSait) March 13, 2017
Desperate fan tweets to Arunabh Kumar and TVF reminded of the emotional comments and tweets on Maggi’s social pages, demanding an explanation or just wishing that the news about excess Lead wasn’t true.
When it all began only Arunabh Kumar was accused of molestation, in the next few days TVF, as an organisation was accused of lack of empathy and discouraging molestation victims from speaking up. While Kumar’s silence on Twitter can still be justified, since he is the accused as of now, TVF needs to buckle up. The content creators need to converse more actively and responsibly. TVF needs to take corrective measures towards the victims, and if they already are, they need to make it known.
At this point, an official FIR has been lodged against Kumar and TVF should expect a lot more social blows till official judgement is revealed. The content creators boast of some massively successful milestones, they still hold credibility, it wouldn’t be too late for them to pick up from here and take corrective measures.