Facebook dials the wrong number in India – a PR disaster?
It was amusing to watch the media carpet bombing tactic used by Facebook in its high decibel campaign to convince the regulator and the public that they only had India’s best interests in mind.
Cover to cover ads which spoke so eloquently about how millions of poor Indians, deprived of their right of access, would get access to so much opportunity, jobs etc. For a moment I wondered if it was a Govt of India or State government ad, given its social objectives and grand visions.
Sometimes I wonder.
- Did FB not see the whiplash going around on social media, the quiet fury that was being built up around its free basics program and how net neutrality was under threat?
- Did they not sense the cynicism with which their ads were being viewed by all stake holders( atleast most of them) ?
- Did they not know of India’s fierce sense of propriety, non alignment and independence from anything being thrust on them ?
- Did they believe that attack was the best form of defence ?
- Did they not realize that the agency and media would be happy as long as it meant big money in their kitty – after all they are only the medium for communication ?
Kudos to the regulator and the government in taking a balanced stand, after sustained pressure from various groups, and coming down hard on those trying to play around with facts and figures and trying to influence thinking.
Marketing is all about influencing decision making in favour of a brand, but marketing surely is not about not understanding how your target markets may react to your communication.
And do more damage to the brand credibility. Facebook with its size and scale and huge user base in India, sure will survive this strong dent to their credibility. Which was further eroded by some insensitive twitter comments, with some strong damage control from the founder himself .
But they will also realize that India can now stand up and does not need to suck up .
This can go down in the FB annals as a case study on what not to do in a country where one does not understand the dynamics fully.
If you pass by this article, do comment or share