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AdStand: The Fightback

It’s not often that an agency fights back to protect its reputation publicly. Last week this happened. Rediffusion Y&R fought back. And Jack and Jones was forced to eat humble pie by consumers

Delhi | November 22, 2016

Adstand by Naresh Gupta

It’s not often that an agency fights back to protect its reputation publicly. Last week this happened. Rediffusion Y&R fought back.

It’s not often that consumers force a bog brand and a bigger celebrity to blink and pull out an ad. Jack and Jones was forced to eat humble pie by consumers.

When Rediffusion fought back

The client-agency relationship in India is a lopsided relationship. Clients hold all the aces and agencies are subservient. Often when the relationship ends, it's the client’s side of story that is known; the agency’s side of the story is seldom told. Rediffusion Y&R found itself caught in the crossfire between the two warring factions of Tata Group. The outgoing Chairman of Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry, alleged, among other things, in a nine-page open letter released across media that there was a financial misdeed in the appointment of Rediffusion as the agency to manage the corporate reputation of Tata Group. The agency was quick to refute the allegation and released an ad of its own refuting the allegation and placing the entire matter in public domain. The ad, more of an open letter, was signed by Arun Nanda, and factually countered the allegation of financial misdeed.

This was a smart and concise fightback from the agency. By placing the facts in public domain, Rediffusion maintained its upperhand and did a lot to protect its reputation. While this was an expensive way of protecting reputation, it’s time more and more agencies found a way to put facts in public domain on the reasons behind a split. Agencies are skilled organizations and are hired for their expertise. Kudos to Rediffusion Y&R for having the gumption to stand up and be counted. It has done a huge favour to the entire communication industry.

Jack-and-Jones-billboard

Jack and Jones faces consumer ire

There are many brands that release ads that are misleading, portray gender equality in bad light or objectify women. Consumers do notice some of them, and find a way to complain to ASCI which takes up the matter. By the time ASCI decides, the campaign is over. Last week Jack and Jones, a leading fashion brand, released a new campaign called #DontHoldback featuring actor Ranveer Singh. Ranveer has a style of his own, and the campaign leverages that tonality to the hilt.

It was one outdoor creative from the brand that generated a lot of controversy. The creative was definitely in bad taste. Consumers on social media went after this one piece of the campaign. Over the weekend, between Friday and Monday, the outdoor got discussed and trashed by many who are the prime audience for the brand. Some of them even filed a complaint with ASCI.

By Monday evening, Jack and Jones tweeted to hundreds of tweeples that they are withdrawing the outdoor creative.

In the age of social media it is difficult for brands to walk away after doing a bad creative. Consumers today are quick to react to brands that are politically incorrect and the loss of reputation of the brands is instantaneous.

Both these instances of fightback are good instances. Consumers are the watchdogs and social media is their power. Agencies too can use a bit of this power to drive a sense of balance.

 

(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)

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