Vespa’s creative storytelling is the PR winner this week

Good PR

Vespa India engages customers through Twitter storytelling #DoYouVespa

Scooter maker and Piaggio’s star brand, Vespa, used Twitter in an interesting way to narrate its brand values via community engagement recently.

The contest idea which is based on the Vespa ad is simple; contestants are given the opening line of a story which can be then used as a peg to narrate their Vespa story:

The lines are around any one of the characters in the ad:

Contestants have to take the story forward and create a new story. The winning lines form the next link of the story and 28 winners in all received miniature Vespa scooters.

Creative use of Twitter for crowd sourced brand storytelling.

Flipkart Founder Sachin Bansal to be delivery boy in Bengaluru

Great customer service can often lead to great PR for a company. Indian E-tailer giant Flipkart, which just raised US $210 million in fresh funding in May, has realised the impact on customer engagement and PR power of special delivery. For a single day, Flipkart founder and chief Sachin Bansal will be making deliveries to Bengaluru customers.

Flipkart CEO, Binny Bansal has already had his turn at delivering goods last month.

Given Flipkart’s competition with Amazon, a nice little PR stunt to get the buzz going seems good. It also helps to engage with the customer directly.

Bad PR

Politician Tapas Sen makes criminal anti-women remarks

Fact. The leader of the Trinamool Congress is a woman – Mamata Banerjee. Yet one of her party MPs, Tapas Sen, is allowed to get away with threats of attacks on women with an unconditional apology. This goes beyond Bad PR – these remarks made can only be seen through the prism of criminality.

Earlier this week, remarks made by Tapas Sen surfaced on a Bangla channel saying, “If any CPIM man is present here. Listen to me. If you ever touch any Trinamool Congress worker or their families at Choumaha, you have to pay for this. Don’t try to act smart with me. I am smarter than you…”

“… Earlier, you guys have bullied me on various occasions. If you insult the mothers and daughters of Trinamool workers. Then I won’t spare you. I will let loose my boys in your homes and they will commit rape. I will teach each of you a lesson”.

To compound that remark, party chief Mamata Banerjee’s remarks on the incident were far from unconditional, she said, “It is not just a mistake, it’s a big blunder. We have taken whatever steps that are needed to be taken. It is an individual utterance. What do you want? Should I kill him? What can I do? Whatever I can do we can do it through our policy", said the West Bengal Chief Minister at the South 24-Paraganas district.

Given the position of women in Indian society, Tapas Sen should be expelled from the party and not allowed to get away with just an apology. There should be a zero tolerance policy for such comments. There may even be a case for criminal action against him.

Sen has since denied that he used the word rape, saying he said raid instead.

Sheryl Sandberg calls emotions study “really bad communication” during visit to India

The furore over Facebook manipulating the emotions of its users has followed Sheryl  Sandberg’s visit to India as well . A recently published study in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), showed the impact on a person of a primarily negative or positive newsfeed. The study, done with Facebook’s help, was conducted with the altered feeds of 689,003 users. This has raised strong questions of ethics as the participants were not informed about the study.

The issue was raised during a high profile visit of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to India. Papers like the Times of India were not satisfied with her explanation that this was “really bad communication.”

Sandberg took the view that they test products, which includes different types of news feeds and will continue to do so. Sandberg said, “These were not to manipulate in any way. This was really bad communication.”

There are troubling questions of ethics and it was certainly bad communication. But an unconditional apology would have helped the situation.

Have you seen any good and bad PR?

Write to Paarul Chand at or tweet @PaarulC or @PRmomentIndia throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

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