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Google Pixel and Anil Kapoor, the Stanley Cup get a thumbs up for Good PR, MakeMyTrip's jingoist campaign is in poor taste

Shoeb Shaikh, Ideosphere

Another action-packed week in the PR world - the good, the bad and even the ugly make an appearance. Ideosphere's Shoeb Shaikh curates what made good and bad PR this week.

Good PR

The Wall meets Mr India

A fantastic blast from the past for the '70s and '80s kids was the revival of the invisible character from Mr. India. With the memorable soundtrack, carefully woven storylines involving actual movie plots and our own Benjamin Button, Anil Kapoor, who refuses to age, the campaign for the new Pixel phone hit the right notes. An astute observation overheard at a World Cup party (the ad played during the matches) was how easy it is for brands to stand apart from the usual clutter and cringe that brands pack in during high-profile events (barring the Superbowl).  

Bad PR

Cricket's  the 'Wall's credibility is wasted in this engine oil campaign 

Devaashish Savant, a digital marketing and communication expert, told us he is unimpressed with oil major BPCL's Aapki Gaadi Ka Mr Dependable" campaign.

Says Savant, "BPCL India's MAK Lubricants has one of the poorest ad-campaign narratives during the Men's WCC 2023. Once celebrated as a CRED'ible "Indiranagar ka gunda", in this 3-part ad series, an eavesdropping Rahul Dravid was a bad idea to start with. Making matters worse, is him offering unsolicited advice on private and personal conversations."

He adds, "Solid advice by 'The Wall'? - Not at all! MAK Lubricants in each ad, explicitly imply that the choice of one's engine-oil requires the same amount of "soch-samajh" (understanding) as marriage, child's education and choice of butter-chicken!

Adds Shoeb, "With their non-stop preaching and total waste of Mr Dependable, Rahul Dravid, MAK engine oil ads were probably the target of much trolling and mockery due to the layered narrative and forced character play (Sikh driver loves his Dhaba chicken?). Mr. India won this round.

Bad PR

Open and Shut AI

Only the most ardent cricket fans can be forgiven for missing the Open AI Sam Altman saga that brewed over the weekend. With more plot twists than a circus contortionist, the tech world was glued to their screens as more details and skeletons tumbled out of the closet. When you swing to fire the most prominent tech CEO in the world, one who is also loved by his employees, peers, investors, and every billionaire on the planet, you best not miss. 

Microsoft almost got Sam, and Sam has yoyo-ed his way back his old team with an almost limitless arsenal and vetoing power to continue his work. OpenAI gets rid of its much-derided board of directors  and a stronger ‘partnership’ with MSFT.

Special mention for a narrative twist to Ashneer Grover for somehow making the open AI kerfuffle about him and his legal battles at BharatPe, in a now deleted tweet he urged Altman to fight on. Grover is the gift that keeps on giving.

Someone better have the good sense to compensate the head of PR at OpenAI with an all-expenses paid vacation to a beach after this saga has run its course. No one can be sure when that will happen. 

Good PR

Stanley soothes the burns.

Look at the (quick) silver-footed folks over at Stanley's PR team. Within 24 hours of a customer uploading a video, they responded with a simple, compelling, eyeball-grabbing offer. The customer in question suffered the complete loss of her car in a fire. Nothing survived except her Stanley thermal cup. The brand responded swiftly with an offer to send her more Stanley cups plus, you guessed it, a car. Extra brownie points for the president to narrate the offer on video. Effective brand building and best product feature (the cups survive fires in the real world!) demo all rolled into one.


Bad PR

A Lost Mauka (Opportunity)

Every few years, a World Cup comes around, and brand decision-making seemingly goes out the window. As the dust has settled on a bitter-sweet tournament most of us would want to forget, we can also identify the misses on the World Cup performance of brands. MakeMyTrip made a major faux pas by failing to read the room. Yes, emotions are high, cricket is a high-strung topic, but they crossed the line with their discount offer to Pakistan fans traveling for the World Cup (too few to even be noticed). 

Deplorable hashtags and poor taste in copy led to the inevitable social media backlash for an expensive marketing stunt. Rival Cleartrip was quick to chime with a counteroffer with more nuance and balance in their messaging. Mistakes allow competitors to claim a round of victory.

Prerna Dalakoti, associate account director, PR Professionals says," Terms like "BoysPlayedWell," "EkShaheenHaar," and "NoMaukaMauka" utilized in the discount codes seemed to mock the sporting event and its outcome, crossing the thin line between humor and blatant disrespect.  I strongly believe that actions taken merely for the sake of creativity without considering their impact on sentiments or the integrity of the sport are unacceptable"

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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