Interview: Ajay Motwani, Adani Wilmar Limited on Fortune Foods’ Pujo campaign

Ajay Motwani

Fortune Food’s Durga Puja campaign was subjected to backlash on social media after a Hindutva group called the campaign an ‘insult to Hindu faith’ for showing a couple consuming non-veg food in a Puja campaign.

Initially created in Bengali the ad was targeted towards the Bengali community that usually doesn’t follow in food restrains during this festival. While the brand apologized for any sentiments that were hurt, it has chosen to stand by its work.

Social Samosa gets in conversations with Ajay Motwani, Marketing Head, Adani Wilmar Limited.

What was the idea behind the recent Durga Pujo campaign? What was the brief given to the agency? 

Durga Puja is the most awaited festival of West Bengal and it is more than just a religious affair. It is synonymous with food, offering a myriad of choices for the foodies to indulge. Durga Puja is as much about food, as it is about devotion- Pet Pujo- This was our core idea last year. We created a fresh execution around the same idea, this year.

While last year, our execution centered on the joy of varieties of food, this year, it was about a fun husband-wife setting where she caters to his asura like appetite with ease. Of course, all Pet Pujo is addressed with Fortune Mustard oil at the heart of tasty food.  With Mustard Oil being the core ingredient and the heart of all foods there, it was a perfect fitment again this year for Fortune Kacchi Ghani Mustard oil to associate with Durga Puja to celebrate the Bengalis’ love for Food and engage them.

As a brand what is your objective from digital marketing?

We have sub-brands that operate on Taste, Health and Functional Health platforms. Digital helps us reach targeted communities for our sub brands. It helps us share with consumers a spectrum of functionalities – serious content in the form of health tips to manage issues like diabetes/cholesterol, as well as recipes that help you cook up a tasty meal. We help consumers live a better life, as well as solve problems/issues for them.

Fortune Foods has always positioned itself as a brand that thrives on making home cooked meals from Good to Great. But innovation does not stop there. It has made its presence felt on digital front where the ever expanding horizon of Home Chefs adds flavor to the simmering Ghar Ka Khana Pot. Digital is a highly engaging medium with recipes today being one of the most searched categories on the platform. We here want to constantly drive and build engagements thereby becoming one-stop destination for everything related to Home Cooked Food.

How does the campaign help Fortune Foods achieve its objective from Marketing?

The campaign was all about generating engagement amongst the Bengali audience during the Durga Puja period. This has predominantly helped to garner eyeballs thereby building a TOM recall for the brand. Through regular engagements and conversations with the consumer on social media, we were able to understand the sentiments around the brand and create a long lasting relationship with them which primarily is the most essential objective of any brand to build customer loyalty.

The campaign has been caught in the eye of a storm ever since it hit the market. What according to you is the core of the issue?

The campaign was all about celebrating the cultural nuances of Food in Durga Puja amongst the Bengalis. Unlike other parts of India consuming vegetarian food, Bengalis consume both non-vegetarian and vegetarian items during the four days of Pujo. The video was built in the context of the Devi (wife in this case) slaying the Demon (Husband’s hunger of Food). The lady later emerged victorious symbolically by slaying the evil of hunger, by an overload of food – serving all the non-vegetarian delicacies during this season. While the original content was created in Bengali and promoted in the state of Bengal, an alternate English version was attempted and related images were posted on social pages showing the (symbolic) goddess serving nonveg food. This was flagged off by some groups offended by images of the goddess in a non-veg food context.

India is a culturally diverse country. Durga Puja coincides with Navratri during which Durga Maa is worshipped and only veg food consumed during the same as well. We respect and celebrate India’s cultural and food diversity. So, we unconditionally apologized if religious sensibilities were hurt. We continued airing the ad only in Bengal, where it was well received.

Since the crisis broke out, how did you deal with it? What led to the brand releasing the statement?

We received multiple calls from some groups demanding the withdrawal of the content with immediate effect. However, it was more about creating a cultural balance between the communities. Hence we decided to withdraw the English version of the ad and continued to run the Bengali version of the song in the markets of West Bengal. It is all about balancing your act. An apology for one is never an insult to other, as it was brought out by few publications in the course of the campaign.

As a brand, do you stand by the campaign and why?

Absolutely yes. As mentioned earlier, the song was all about “Worshipping the Stomach” and celebrating the Joy of Food around a particular festivity. Showcasing both veg and non-veg food was honest and authentic. It was seen to be offensive by a few sections of society, which was unfortunate. Fortune Foods has adhered to make “Cooking at Home” from Good to Great and relish the taste, which obviously was the context in the entire scheme of the campaign here.

Also Read: Durga Puja Campaigns that lit the socialverse in 2018

How has the reaction been from the actual TG for whom the campaign was created?

The response has been immensely overwhelming as far as the TG is concerned. We reached out to both Men & Women in Bengal of which 53% of the viewers were primarily women. The Bengali edit alone received over 2.8 Million views on Facebook and about 1.6 million views on YouTube with an average view rate surpassing the average industry benchmarks.

The volume of negative tweets was very low as compared to the support and the comments that we received from the audiences in Bengal. The continuous pouring of positive comments both on the Brand and on the video expressed their affection and connect and urged not to pay attention to these negative elements around.  The Campaign turned out to be highly engaging with over 15000+ shares and a total of 1 Lac+ engagement over a span of 8-10 days, in spite of some initial troubles.

Do you have any message for the consumers for whom the campaign was made?

We would like to thank all those who kind of stood for the brand and expressed their sheer love and affection towards it. Fortune shall continue to deliver utmost consumer satisfaction ensuring that their Ghar Ka Khana evolves from Good to Great.

Do you think it is important to be politically correct as opposed to creatively oriented in this day and age?

Creativity and correctness need to go hand in hand, especially when debates and alternate views are easily fuelled in social media. But, it’s a tricky balancing act. Having said that, if creativity is rooted in honesty and not done with the intent to offend anyone – even if it seems to be out of touch with political correctness, good work should be protected.

With the recent social media crisis, what are the 3 main things that you learned? Any social media crisis management tips for other brands?

Take ownership Fast and prepare to take responsibility

Understand the core and magnitude of the issue. Take a deep breath and analyze what has actually caused the uproar. Do not go over the Top unnecessarily. It is essential to evaluate the audience sentiments and accept a fluid approach rather than a fixed one.

Be honest, authentic and transparent.