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Good and Bad PR: Urban Company Soars with Chhoti Soch, Govt officials Face Backlash for Survivor Shaming

We're reaching the financial year-end in India, but the hits just keep coming. Some brands found themselves in a jam; others hit the bullseye, like Anant in Jamnagar.

Good PR:

Urban Company:

Teaching moral science is not easy. Our parents are the first (and best?) ambassadors of delivering the early moral codec, while schools are designed to impart supplementary value systems. But if we upheld higher standards for equality, respect and empathy, the latest Urban Company campaign would never have seen the light of day.

And that's what makes the Chhoti Soch campaign (the successor to the equally thoughtful Chota Kaam campaign) so deft with its message to destigmatize the act of giving a massage. It stands up for the brands' service providers (everyday ambassadors) and 'educates' the audience without becoming very preachy. The message reinforcement is complete when a high-achiever like Sania Mirza responds to the campaign with an authentic perspective. 

Bad PR:

Atithi Devo Bhava

Okay, it is not technically a brand. Still, when the entire tourism ethos of our country is built on that one simple philosophy, incidents like the Jharkhand gang rape decimate and shred our credibility as a country. International travel advisories are being issued warning tourists visiting India. 

Last week, a Spanish biker touring India (apart from 60-odd other countries) was raped by seven men in Dumka, Jharkhand. As the horrifying news spread what the world got to experience, as a result, was a fragile Indian ego that tried its best to justify, divert and even question the survivor's credibility on full blast. 

The tourism industry adds between $150-200 billion to our GDP annually, depending on which official statistic you believe. To have the Chief of the National Commission for Women indulge in a vitriolic tone on social media on the discourse around the incident before taking care of the victim, stinks of incompetence and inhumanity. The administration has since moved quickly on the investigation and offered the victim due compensation and some arrests have been made. But the collective conscience needs to take a long, hard look in the mirror before we wax eloquent about our leadership position in the world.

Good PR:

Anant Ambani (Reliance Industries)

We aren't crediting Vantara, the state-of-the-art animal rescue program from Reliance Industries, with the title of Good PR just yet because multiple reports are claiming massive policy breaches and flouting of environmental laws in the process. However, amidst the jamboree and display of opulence by India's most affluent family (sorry, Adani, not quite there yet), the one thing that stood out for its honestly surprising genuity was the media blitzkrieg helmed by Anant Ambani, conceptualizer and creator of the program. 

As a scion of one of the largest business houses in the country, he hasn't had the smoothest ride for multiple reasons.

Over one single weekend, Anant was able to seamlessly marry (no pun intended) two of the most significant milestones of his life - the rescue centre and his impending wedding. 

He spoke passionately, profoundly and eloquently about the project (kudos to the media training team, even if we know the questions were stage-managed) without needing a teleprompter or script.

There was dark comedy in seeing media personalities taste the food meant for the rescued animals in the zoo. We're skipping a review of the shenanigans of the pre-wedding celebrations as we weren't invited. Only one prediction: how do you top a Rihanna concert (at an eye-watering reported fee) for the actual wedding? Our bet is Taylor Swift. You heard it here first. C'mon Anant, do it for the desi Swifties!

Shoeb is the director of brand content at Ideosphere Consulting. He loves helping brands and business leaders articulate their value better.

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