11th December 2023

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MakeMyTrip advertisement draws social media ire

NEW DELHI : An attempt by online travel agent MakeMyTrip to cash in on the excitement around Saturday’s India-Pakistan cricket match attracted criticism, with many users calling its print advertisement insensitive and in poor taste.

The ad for MakeMyTrip’s homestays and villas business ‘invited’ travellers from Pakistan to use its services with discount codes if Pakistan lost by a certain number of runs on its ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup clash with India in Ahmedabad.

What was perhaps intended as a joke prompted many users on social media platforms like LinkedIn and ‘X’ to call it insensitive and full of racial tonalities. 

The ad gave an ‘open invitation’ to Pakistani fans. “If Pakistan loses by 10 wickets or 200 runs, get 50% off. Use code: BoysPlayedWell. 6 wickets or 100 runs, get 30% off. Use code: EkShaheenHaar. 3 wickets or 50 runs, get 10% off. Use code: NoMaukaMauka.”

The company has not issued any statement on the matter, nor has responded to queries sent by Mint. The advertisement was made by Enormous Brands.

Sandeep Goyal, chairperson and managing director of advertising firm Rediffusion called it a case of great moment marketing. “It is both clever and silly. But more than that, the content leaves lots to be desired. I am sure it was intended to be all good fun, but the end product is lowly and derisive. It doesn’t speak well of either India or the MMT brand,” he said.

Merely getting visibility out of an advertisement isn’t a yardstick of ‘success’ anymore, said Karthik Srinivasan, a communications strategy consultant. “The predominant tone of reaction matters too. From that point of view, there’s perhaps more negativity for the ad than positive. The ad’s intention was to provoke and it was wholly intentional, I think. While it was in poor taste overall, I hardly think it went ‘wrong’ though, from the reactions. It is hugely polarizing, with people taking opposing sides,” he said.

Over a dozen companies put out advertisements with the cricket World Cup being their focus, many of which were appreciated by users.

Cricket writer and broadcaster Joy Bhattacharjya posted on Facebook that the Pakistani team had a set of decent cricketers, many of whom were regarded as heroes much like Virat Kohli. If we derive excitement from thumping our chests before an India-Pakistan match or mocking their fans, “we probably lead sad lives”, Bhattacharjya wrote.

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Updated: 15 Oct 2023, 10:32 PM IST