Sulabh International ring in Holi for a good cause

Great PR

Sulabh International ring in Holi for a good cause

It is a Holi with a difference for the widows of Vrindavan, the mythical childhood home of Lord Krishna. This year, over 800 widows got to play Holi with vibrant flowers and traditional gulal. As the stark white sari clad women filled their hands with colour, they were breaking deep seated taboos against widows in India donning any colour or in any way living fulfilled lives. Thanks to NGO Sulabh, which also works for the cause of sanitation in India, at a weekend function these often abandoned women, who traditionally played Holi only with Lord Krishna, celebrated the festival of colours with each other.

This story made it to the front page of two of the biggest english language papers in India: Hindustan Times and the Times of India, both papers giving the story the coveted anchor spot.

It was also covered by virtually every media platform in the country, including the Wall Street Journal.

Source: Hindustan Times

Sensitive PR by an NGO which managed to turn the spotlight intelligently on the plight of these women.

India’s Planning Commission want to be social

The word Planning Commission often conjures up pictures of stodgy government bureaucrats working on dusty and never-ending Five Year Plans. But it has drawn up a plan to create a wing of young professionals who will promote the Planning Commission and its schemes on social media tools, like Facebook, Twitter and Google Hangout, as per this story in DNA

This is part of the Government of India’s overall plan to create social media hubs in every government department.

The Planning Commission, it seems, is first of the block with its proposal. A much needed move for the Commission whose Deputy Chairman was pilloried in 2011 for claiming that less well off Indians can live on Rs. 32/- per day.

Reports say that Cola Cola plans virtually connected vending machines between India and Pakistan

The venerable Economic Times claims in this story that Coca Cola plans to launch vending machines in India and Pakistan that would allow people between the two nations to virtually interact with one another.

While Coca Cola is yet to confirm this story officially, its already generating PR for the company. As per Economic Times, Coca-Cola set up a 'hug machine' in Singapore in 2012 – a vending machine with a red and white message announcing the consumer to 'hug' it, after which the consumer would be given a free Coke. The 'hug machine' generated 112 million impressions within one day.

If these virtual vending machines do connect between the two not-so-friendly nations, brace yourself for miles of publicity.

Bad PR

Unapproved and Unpublished Ford India ads leads to senior leadership firing at ad agency JWT India

Ford India found itself in the eye of a public storm and PR challenge when unapproved and unpublished mock ups of ads created by employees of their ad agency JWT India for Figo were placed online. As per this story in the Wall Street Journal, “the ads hadn't been intended for publication, but were circulated widely after they were uploaded on an industry website by JWT employees over the weekend. The website, Ads of the World, gives monthly awards to ads submitted by users.”

The ad mock ups which show extremely inappropriate pictures of women stuffed inside the boot of Ford Figo, supposedly to demonstrate the large boot of the car. As per Wall Street Journal one of a series of mock ups shows a caricature of former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, grinning from the driver's seat, flashing a victory sign, with three scantily clad women bound and gagged in the car's trunk. This controversy comes at a particularly sensitive time as India has just passed a major new anti-rape women after the horrific gang rape in Delhi, in December 2012.

Both Ford and JWT immediately reacted with apologies when the story first broke over the weekend. A top Ford Motor Co. executive also formally apologized mid week while JWT India has fired its creative head Bobby Pawar.

As per Wall Street Journal,” Ford global marketing chief Jim Farley said at the start of his keynote speech at the New York International Auto Show that "It was totally inappropriate, it is not acceptable and swift action has been taken,” He apologized for the ads and said the company is updating its review process.”

Ford and JWT both followed the classic crisis management method of immediate apology, swift action in both withdrawing the mock ups from ads of the world and a promise of further reviews and actions. This incident once, which has generated debate across the world, reveals the role of social media in keeping a constant spotlight on organisation actions.

What do you think? Could Ford and JWT have done anything differently or did they do a good job of handling the PR challenge? Let us know your thoughts.

Have you seen any great or even bad PR?

Contact Paarul Chand by emailing or tweet @PaarulC or @PRmomentIndia throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.