A Story of Mistaken Identities in the Digital Era

Throughout history, there have been incidents of mistaken identities and people capitalizing on the same. But today, with easy access to news, whether fake or real, things have changed. Especially with the right wings taking over the world and the collective conservative conscience kicking in, to pick fights with a faction is detrimental not only for the perpetrators but also for their namesakes. There is no limit to the abuses and negativity that tweets and comments shower, many a times reasons unknown to the inflicted, due to remote similarity in names or twitter handles. Digital era has shrunk the world, no one can claim ignorance to any major event continents away. News and details are available on ones’ fingertips and all one has to do is filter it against beliefs and post 140 or more characters to be read by the world.

Many a times mistaken identities are accidents, other times it is pure bad luck. One such example is the Isis mobile app- an app that monetized on NFC capabilities of smart devices to make payments.  The mobile app, in 2014, following the gaining notoriety of the terrorist organization ISIS, rebranded itself to Softcard. A similar incident took place in India last week. Following an alleged remark by Snapchat CEO, Evan Speigel, that Snapchat is not meant for poor countries like India and Spain, Indians were enraged and many decided to boycott the app and rate it one star. But Snapdeal, an Indian ecommerce company, faced the brunt. Many frustrated Indians uninstalled Snapdeal app after mistaking it for Snapchat. The same week, India also witnessed one of its celebrities, Sonu Sood, being trolled for a ‘forced religiousness’ remark made by another celebrity Sonu Nigam.  Yet another case in India was in 2016 when a car brand Zica was rebranded as Tiago only weeks after its unveiling, following an outbreak of Zika virus.

Many of these mistaken identities can be taken care of with swift action, just like Softcard. Softcard intervention was timely, else it would have lost much of its online traffic to ISIS website and its twitter handle would have gone for a toss. Tiago rebranding was well thought, but I can only imagine the pain they would have gone through to come up with a new name and carry out rest of the campaigns.

When we could blame the stars for Softcard and Tiago mishaps, Snapdeal and Sonu Sood are victims of blatant mass ignorance. The mass that follows the crowd despite being ignorant of the root cause and implications of any action or reaction. Even when the impact of such ignorance is not long lasting, a few days of sharing the limelight for the wrong reason with the wrong people has its own consequences. A media release denying any association with the culprit is too over the top, it is only wit and humour that could survive the storm. Preaching to selectively deaf ears is a waste of resources, only remedy being the age-old tongue in cheek reply that hits the right place. Because, the digital era has shrunk not only our worlds but also our brains.

To say the least, even when there’s much ado for nothing, there’s definitely more to a name.


The Not So Famous ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Collection

I am a Disney fan not just for the beautiful princess stories but also for the life lessons and laughter it brings along. So, this year when Disney remade the live action ‘Beauty and the Beast’ I had even more reasons to watch it, Emma Watson and IMAX 3-D. Oh, the experience was just splendid and it more that met my expectations.

My story does not end here, I kept reading and came across Disney’s Beauty and the Beast- Hidesign collaboration. And so, the next time I visited a mall and spotted the Hidesign space, I was thrilled. I went in to take a better look at the bags, the embellishments were reminiscent of the Beauty and Beast characters but there was something missing. Or something I might have missed. Except for the article I read, there was no advertisement, cut out or anything of the kind I came across. A complete absence of marketing campaign. Was it deliberate from their part or a dangerous miss out? Hidesign and Disney collaboration might have been massive but it failed to create awareness about the limited edition that could possibly burn a hole in both their profits.

This ordeal made me research on the campaign Hidesign launched, for its Beauty and the Beast collection in India. There were four major tactics that I stumbled upon that too only after knowing where to look. One, a print ad (could be digital too, like a post made on Facebook) featuring the ball scene as a backdrop and the Hidesign bag as a prop. Second, the ongoing exhibition events in malls in Mumbai and Delhi. Third, a video advertisement that was available on Hidesign Facebook page. Fourth, Hidesign Founder-President Dilip Kapur interviews in Indian dailies. The reach of these efforts is quite questionable. Hidesign having uploaded the video on YouTube, garnered just 999 views and despite my relentless playing of various Beauty and the Beast clips and bloopers there were no pre-roll video ads from Hidesign Enchanted series.

There is an intersection of Disney fans and Hidesign patrons, and Hidesign founder is vocal about wanting to tap the wider Disney, youth and adult, audience with the collection. Despite these customers or their spread on social media or their interest in Disney content, both Disney and Hidesign has failed to market the collection effectively. Awareness creation is limited to just two cities (Delhi and Mumbai), Bengaluru is completely in the dark, no stalls, no exhibitions nor effective trade marketing but followers on Facebook wondering ‘why not Bengaluru’. Despite claims of the collection selling 50% more than normal Hidesign collections, it feels that Hidesign has lost a great marketing opportunity that could have given it an edge, a definite opportunity to don a creative hat.

This article has its own flaws, it has no backing of proper market research but only individual experience as a shopper. But, I believe, that is what branding is all about. What if you have a great product but no one to claim that? What if you have your set of consumers but zero awareness among shoppers? After all, customers do not present themselves to a brand, you need to let them know that the brand is there for them.