Friday, April 5, 2013

Figo controversy stirs ad industry

That social media is a double-edged sword is a fact well established. But the leak of the controversial Ford Figo advertisement and the fiasco around it has reiterated the power of the social media, which brings with it as many risks as advantages.

Advertisers have for long been celebrating the reach of the internet and viral marketing, but the extent of damage the medium could bring wasn't something that has hit advertising agencies on the forehead.

The leak of an ad for Ford Figo depicting former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a car trunk full of gagged and handcuffed women has created a fury to the extent that the head of the advertising agency JWT India has lost his job over the incident.

"If this ad was done in the olden days, it would have got buried, but social media has led it to penetrate across countries and markets," says Harish Bijoor, an independent brand consultant.

It is not just the reach of the internet, but the kind of power social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter wield, that have shaken the advertising world.

Social media is not just a tool that disseminates information to a wide audience but one that gives people a louder voice than any other medium has.

"With social media, it takes very little to prop up a controversy. Giving an opinion is a 20 second thing and is free of cost. Everyone is a self publisher because of which a controversy fans faster and deeper," Bijoor says.

Ford was the first to bear such a heavy brunt, but is certainly not the first to have been pricked by social media.

A series of ads by Smirnoff which looked at the female form in a negative manner found its way on the internet and spurred controversy last year.

So what does this mean for the advertising world? More policing, guarded creativity, and definitely more costs.

Advertising in general will become a more expensive and complicated affair. The challenge will be to ensure that creativity isn't stifled but channeled properly.

Ad agencies will now not only have to work on ways to step up security but also look at quicker means to control damages.

"When there is a crisis in print or TV content, PR teams are involved in crisis management for their clients. Companies will now have to engage similar teams for social media crisis management," said Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO of BrandComm, a brand communications consultancy.

"Working with tech companies for security is going to be a norm in future and whether or not companies will like it, policing will hot up. Controlling use of multiple devices, for starters, since smartphones have the capability to capture, store and disseminate the creative content developed at ad agencies," Bijoor said.

Read my blogs @  


No comments: