5 Examples How Social Media Can Screw You

Rohit Sharma

When you Google ‘Haagen Dazs India’, it takes merely few seconds for it to show hundreds of links that go to hate pages that basically label the international ice cream giant a ‘racist’. Those who decided to delve deep into the issue called it a PR catastrophe. In 2009, Haagen Dazs announced its royal arrival in the media, but it all turned into a nightmare when someone in TBWA Advertising came up with the idea of a campaign that appeared to invite only foreigners and not allow Indians to come to a newly opened Häagen-Dazs shop in Select City Walk mall, Delhi. The ice cream maker issued an immediate apology, removed the ad and blamed it all on its advertising agency which it later dumped.

Current status: The shop, from the look of it, seems bustling with crowd most of the time. We’re a forgiving nation aren’t we?

In 6 years, Facebook has become such a big, important international brand that it’s attempts of re-invention to keep each and every user pleased and connected has become a requisite for the company. But, the networking site that boasts of over 400 million users worldwide (out of which 8 millions are in India) hasn’t been quite successful in its privacy policy and terms & conditions alteration attempts. In 2009, Facebook was forced to back out from policy changes that thousands of users complained would allow the social-networking site the ability to control their information forever, even after they cancel their accounts. Almost every upgrade that Facebook brings becomes unacceptable to the user because it’d require basically push them to adapt to something new. Earlier in 2007, for example, a tracking tool called ‘Beacon’ shocked users by broadcasting information about their shopping habits and activities at other websites.

Current status: Facebook doesn’t deter from bringing in more changes. Today, we were asked to make some more changes in our Privacy settings on the website.

On January 1st, 2009, an unusually less on New Years greetings, Times of India asked us to pop a chill-pill and become friends with Pakistan. The newspaper came with a heart rendering message that told us uninformed beings that the nation that’s crumbling like a cookie is NOT a foe as people and cultures are almost the same. Well, it’s hard to argue with that, look at Sania-Shoaib deal/union. TOI came up with concerts, audio cds, editorials and Amitabh Bachchan, who all told us to look at our neighbour from Yash Chopra’s glasses and “forget the past”. What stopped them for a month from sermonizing and basically disappearing from the public glare were terrorist attacks that struck Pune in February… even Jug Suraiya didn’t speak aman.

Current status: The campaign is back but stays online as it has lost most of its credibility and fervor.  

“If Obama can do it, so can L K Advani”, thought BJP. The party, in early 2009, was doing its best to make Advani gain some respect in the masses and classes, with elections around the corner. Breaking all recession barriers, BJP launched a 2009-version of rath yatra – Rs 2.5 billion worth marketing facial for the party and its leader – part of it reserved for social media touch ups. A portal on the lines of barackobama.com was launched for Advani along with YouTube channel, Facebook, Orkut and Twitter pages. Congress on the other hand stayed quiet and won the elections. The ghost of India Shining ignominy revisited BJP town and took Advani back with it into anonymity.

Current Status: The networking sites haven’t been receiving much attention but that hasn’t daunted Advani from updating his blog.

Bringing freshness in politics is only Rahul Gandhi’s zone. Shashi Tharoor tried entering it, was ostracized and thrown out. Last year, Tharoor emerged as the youngistan leader from the government with 7 lakh users following his Tweets. But the Tweeting twatted him back when his cattle-class comments, personal views on his colleagues, austerity drive and India’s foreign policy came into notice, yet, big daddies in the govt. chose to ignore all the brouhaha till came the IPL scandal. Lalit Modi went down with the scandal (most of uncovered by Twitter!) and dragged Tharoor from his post and goodwill from the govt lobbies. 

Current status: After a silence for a few days, a much mellower and less vocal Tharoor continues to Tweet.

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