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Eros Now burns fingers with offensive religious post, experts caution brands against cheap tricks

The company’s social media handle posted memes related to the festival of Navratri, which offended religious sentiments

Eros Now has issued an apology for hurting religious sentiments after receiving backlash from people on social media regarding their Navratri posts. The posts in question have now been deleted from their handles.

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“It is not, and it has never been, our intention to hurt anyone’s emotions,” said the apology.

The posts, as many people alleged, were derogatory and vulgar in nature. People expressed their anger on social media and soon ‘Ban Eros’ started trending on Twitter.

We reached out to experts to ask if this was the best way to reach out to people. Shouldn’t brands be more careful when associating a festival with such humour?

Ajay Gahlaut

According to Ajay Gahlaut, brand expert and the former CCO and MD of Publicis Worldwide, “Brands have to be extremely careful in today’s charged and polarised atmosphere. There are a hundred ways to connect with their target audience without having to court controversy. It would be naive on a brand manager’s part to think that in today’s connected world a brand can get away with any comment, seemingly however positive, humorous, or progressive, without a backlash. When in doubt they would do well to talk only about the benefits of their brand without resorting to ill-advised, awkward and ham-handed communication of this sort.”

Samit Sinha

Samit Sinha, Founder and Managing Partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, said these controversies might not always be in the brand’s favour and there are many other ways to get people’s attention.

“Humour has always been an effective communication tool, but like anything truly effective it has to be used with caution to ensure that it does not offend. Sometimes, for the sake of grabbing instant attention, brand owners can make serious errors in judgment and cross the line, which is what seems to be the case here. Personally, I’m not offended by its religious referencing as much as by its cheap, lewd, and vulgar tone and content. However, we need to keep in mind that there is clearly a pervasive atmosphere in India that is making people hypersensitive to perceived slights, particularly when it has to do with direct or even indirect references to religion. And thanks to the ubiquitous access to digital platforms, the reactions to these are swift, intense, and widespread. Whether these reactive sentiments are genuine or manufactured is beside the point."

"What the brand owners need to understand is that courting such controversies cannot be in the brand’s best interests. Religion and politics are two extremely touchy subjects that invariably divide people and breed mutual hostility, and are therefore best avoided by marketers. There are other less controversial ways to get people’s attention,” he said.

We reached out to Eros Now but didn’t receive any response from them.

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