Social Samosa discusses some of the prominent Brand Crises from the last decade – some redefined crisis management and some set an example.
The last decade witnessed Tsunamic changes in the world of Media and Advertising. From being a mere tick in the checklist to becoming a necessity amongst the marketers, transparency became a norm in the age of social media.
With the viral nature of the online media where the brands are lauded for good work and the smallest error gets noticed and in extreme cases leads to a crisis. This was seen prominently in the last decade, not only due to the rise of social media, but also the overtly sensitive political and religious sentiments.
Almost every brand was banned or boycotted at some point. However, a few brand crises were bigger than the others. Big enough to take the product off the shelf or impact the topline – depending on how the brand handled the crisis.
We take you through the journey of some prominent brand crises of the last decade and how deftly some of the brands turned it around.
Amul and the story of a dangerous substance
Amul, as a brand is known for leveraging moments with quirky. On a particular day, however, it was face-to-face with a dissatisfied customer – Neha Tomar, claiming that Amul Milk contains ‘dangerous’ substance in its Gold pack.
The post stated that the Amul gold milk pack went sour and became cheese-like. It soon went viral on social media.
But within a span of 4 days, the brand responded and explained the issue taking the reins of the situation. This case presents a perfect example of the effective use of social listening and immediate response to a brand crisis.
Chitale Bandhu sets an example
On a leading food group on Facebook, Pune Eat Outs, images of Chitale brand’s milk packets with missing expiry date terming it do be an adulteration were being circulated.
Indraneel Chitale the brand’s CEO was soon tagged in the post. To everyone’s surprise, he not only reverted to the post but also took appropriate action.
Enter 2014, and brand Uber was allegedly involved in a grave issue where a woman passenger was raped by an Uber driver in Delhi. The city was outraged at the incident and temporarily banned the multi-national company in the city.
It was even revealed that the same driver, Shiv Kumar Yadav was convicted of another assault back in 2011. Uber was accused of no background check of its drivers posing extreme safety hazards to its customers.
Yadav was sentenced to life imprisonment as per reports. What concerned the common man and others was the way the leadership team tackled the situation.
The woman from Texas had filed reports against the company. As per a report from The Guardian, to defend the brand, the company team instead of apologizing or mitigation measures blamed a rival company of conspiracy theories.
The above response did not go well for the brand as they faced harsh consequences for their tardy and irresponsible management of the crisis.
Maggi is banned
Nestle’s Maggi excessive lead debate tops the list of brand crises in the last decade. Consumers’ relationship with their beloved ‘Noodle’ pack changed when the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) allegedly found Lead & MSG beyond permissible limits in a batch of the product.
Maggi was soon banned from the market. But Nestle did not sit quietly. It took a bit of time to respond but soon turned it around with the #WeMissedYouToo campaign.
Nestle’s Maggi made a comeback in November 2015 after the ban was finally lifted after its thorough review from the authorities.
We Miss You Too has managed to rise as one of the biggest crisis management case studies in the last decade.
KFC Rattrap, eh?
June 2015 saw yet another brand embroiled in controversy when a man ‘Devorise Dixon’ allegedly found KFC chicken in the shape of a Rat!
The man posted the images on Facebook which caught the viral fire on social media. KFC was questioned on compromising on its quality.
The brand issued an official statement to be taking consumers seriously. Soon, the lab tests and reports as per the brand confirmed that the apparent rat to be only chicken!
Time and again, the brand has been accused of similar crises but continues with its mitigation techniques & efforts.
Shake it off, Lenskart?
2015 saw another brand crisis with Lenskart in the scanner for an insensitive marketing tagline during the Nepal earthquake.
Just a few hours after the calamity had struck the nation, Lenskart launched an SMS campaign that read, “Shake it off like this earthquake” with discount offers mentioned in it.
This did not go well with the audience with many boycotting the brand over its insensitive remark/tagline amidst the tragedy. The brand soon issued an apology.
Samsung Galaxy Note 7- An exploding crisis, literally
How can one forget the crisis of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 where many mobile phones exploded and caused furor worldwide?
Soon after the launch of the infamous Samsung Galaxy Note 7, a batch of the product was observed to be exploding every time put to charge. It was stated that the crisis was happening due to overheating of the product, causing grave consequences and injuries to the customers.
In the cataclysmic scenario, the brand took immediate action to recall the Note 7 batch of smartphones. It attempted to reach the root cause of the issue establishing the fact that the problem of the explosion was contained to only Note 7 model.
As per the ‘Interbrand report’, a year later, the brand saw a 9% increase in its value post its mitigation efforts.
Why people went on to #BoycottIndigo?
‘Indigo Airlines’ was caught in the storm of social media when they manhandled a passenger and dragged him on the tarmac at Delhi Airport. The video was aired on social media with consumers resorting to #BoycottIndigo on various channels in 2017. Things went south when the brand fired the whistleblower instead of looking into the issue.
Later the brand apologized for the situation and assured to be taking strict measures to avoid such issues in the future.
Snapping at Snapchat
Evan Spiegel’s statement that Snapchat was only for rich countries and not for nations like Spain & India caused a furor on social media. Users expressed their indignation with #BoycottSnapchat tweets. Some even went a step further to uninstall the app and rating the app with a single star on Google play store.
The PR team for the brand eventually denied the CEO making any such statements that didn’t help the cause much.
In a rather comical turn of events, a large chunk of consumers confused Snapdeal with Snapchat and went on to downgrade and boycott the eCommerce platform with #BoycottSnapdeal trending on Twitter.
When Air India took a flight of distress
In 2017, another airline brand was caught in a controversy when a passenger found a cockroach in her meal during an Air India flight.
The brand was quick to apologize to the passenger but has been controversy’s child time and again. In 2015, the same brand was caught ill-treating a passenger. The video went viral on online media with the brand having to make mitigation efforts in the distress situation.
The game of gluten or plastics?- Aashirvaad Atta
2018 witnessed reports of Aashirvaad Atta containing plastic. After controversies surrounding plastic eggs and rice, supposed plastic atta caused panic amongst consumers.
Aashirvaad Atta denied any such claims and quickly countered the allegations backed with data, stating that as per FSSAI every atta should contain “6% gluten or Wheat protein” which the Atta strictly adheres to. The brand even went on to lodging a complaint against the ‘alleged’ fake video doing the rounds on social media.
“Food has no religion”- Zomato
After a consumer complained of being assigned a Muslim delivery executive, Zomato responded with a sentimental remark of “Food doesn’t have a religion, it is a religion”.
While this won many hearts on socioverse, the brand received a lot of flak from various religious groups. This led to many uninstalling the app and even voting it with a single star on Google play store.
The company stood its ground and flatly refused to change the delivery executive with Deepinder Goyal echoing the company’s sentiments in his tweet.
Zomato too has seen many controversies in the last decade – be it for their campaign that got food & porn on one page (quite literally) or their MC BC outdoor campaign that outraged social media users. Nonetheless, the brand continues to be a darling with quirky marketing tactics.