On the Adani controversy, I do not have much to say as it is a political matter. On the Fortune ad, I do have a lot to say as it is the business of brands. Inadvertently, the twain has met and captured in the crossfire is the Prince of Calcutta.
As first principles of Advertising, a celebrity endorsement arrives with its share of unforeseen pitfalls. Like Salman or Saif, they may be embroiled in homicidal controversies, whether man or animal. In the case of cricketers, their careers may suddenly perish and desired equity suddenly becomes undesirable baggage. While in the case of Nike, their historical choice of endorsers, notably Colin Kaepernick, has been deliberately disruptive. This is, however, the case of brand malperformance directly impacting the endorser and such examples are way fewer in comparison. A conceivable equivalent being a celebrity perishing in a car crash, driving the very brand being endorsed.
Firstly, it is important to ascertain the role of a cooking oil in the larger recipe of cardiac health. It is a key member in an ensemble of heredity, stress, lifestyle, BMI, diet and attitudes but in no way is it a defining contributor. The cooking medium can be rendered impotent by a disequilibrium in the other elements, which can tilt the needle towards a negative outcome. To use a cricketing analogy, the Fortune Oil is the wicket-keeper of Team Heart, ensuring that no avoidable damage can occur, but it is neither Bumrah nor Kohli. Thus, meriting serious attention and a celebrity endorsement but within reasonable limits of influence. So unlike alcohol which can cause a heart attack, the cooking oil cannot prevent a heart attack.
But then we live in an irrational world and so this advertisement had to be withdrawn and this brand may well face an undeserving brunt. While it is unerringly true, that most urban affluent victims of heart attacks are usually using white oils; this entire category can be accordingly positioned as a mass murderer, a new-age digestive gas chamber. It would be fascinating to watch the response courtesy the splendid Ogilvy, but it would be equally entertaining to imagine a few possible approaches, based on both imagination and experience.
The first can be the Nirupa Roy holier-than-thou approach which will regret the cardiac incident and urge the populace to be holistically vigilant. The second will be a scientific dissection of the oil demonstrating how it is proven safe by Donald Trump’s Medical Association. The third may be the ‘Dada Tujhe Salaam’ story saluting his courage, and wishing him longevity. The fourth is unlikely to be a candid and disarming take, admitting that even Fortune is not always the flawless oil. The fifth could easily have been a provocative version; Fortune always favours the brave, which will celebrate his recovery with both gratitude and a pointed political missive.
But all of the above are traditional old-world communication approaches and this new age of experience marketing must lead to broader possibilities. A tie-up with a hospital chain for an Integrated Heart Health programme which will include checkups, medication, gym memberships, lean foods and oil as an experience alliance at one annual price. It can easily be hosted by Amazon as a pioneering ensemble of healthcare across every perceivable continuum, in an innovative yet customer-centric module. The social media platforms of Fortune must convert quickly to aggressive awareness building initiatives about cardiac health involving the best in the land and the role of the oil clearly demonstrated. This may well include lean food partnerships — Meatigo for meats, Licious for chicken, paneer, snacks, milk, paneer and all else. If packets of chips can come with free data then surely expensive oils can lead to great discounts for running shoes and exercise gear, instead of bundling with predictable allies.
In sum, this crisis can become a powerful brand opportunity for Fortune, if only they apply courage, imagination and foresight. The irritating Adani connect will soon die and the endearing ad connect will lovingly persist.
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