By Avik Chattopadhyay
What an absolute mess Hyundai India is going through right now! Getting singed in the backlash of a Twitter post across the border is the last thing the brand could have ever imagined!!
The initial reactions of the India operation were not the most assuaging, to put it politely. In fact, a fried chicken brand reacted more firmly with clarity. On a day when social media should have been awash with the loss of Lata Mangeshkar, the tirade against Hyundai ended up ‘trending’ more.
This entire episode holds up three simple learning for all auto-marketers who have adopted social media communication as a key part of their brand engagement strategy.
Coordinate better across borders.
Communication is borderless in today’s world, so it always helps to coordinate and collaborate across borders, whether India and Pakistan, China and Japan or Ukraine and Russia. The communication teams of global brands must work as one large unit while respecting the sentiments of respective markets. Headquarters should set clear guidelines for each market to comply with on narratives and messaging, beyond merely fussing with logo size and corporate colours.
On social media, support social issues.
It is sheer lunacy to support political issues, whatever be the pressure. Supporting movements like MeToo, BLM or MentalHealth is a demonstration of maturity like Ford did. People appreciate such positive stands and bond better with you as a brand.
Also, social media platforms or handles are only a medium and not the end. You do not have to post Tweets or Instagram updates every day and on every occasion. I find many global brands using social media for messaging on religious festivals in India. One innocent, erroneous message and it could hugely backfire. Stay away from such gimmicks. There are better ways to show solidarity with your local customer and culture.
Empower local operations to react faster and better.
The global headquarters might either be well into the night or yet to wake up and that robs the country operation of precious hours in damage-control. As the local leadership knows local sensitivities better, allow them to react quicker and firmer than getting every piece of communication whetted by the global head of brand communications. You are assuming he or she actually understands ground-level issues which might not be the case.
Will this tirade against a few automotive brands persist? I do not think so, as good sense will soon prevail after the jingoism dies down. We are anyway not given to ultra-nationalism, or all Chinese products would have been off our shelves post-Galwan. The level-headed Indian consumer will understand the pressures under which such posts were made and will appreciate the fact that such pressures are not applicable in our country, yet.
This is “Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” and not “Anarchy ka…”!
(The author is Co-Founder Expreal India)
DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are solely of the author and Express Mobility does not necessarily subscribe to it.