Indian companies are now deftly using global geopolitics to help build their brands — and raise their profile.
Indian Travel booking portal EaseMyTrip has announced that it’ll suspend flight bookings to Maldives after a row between social media users of the two countries. “In solidarity with our nation, EaseMyTrip has suspended all Maldives flight bookings,” posted EaseMyTrip CEO Nishant Pitti on X last night. The company’s stock responded to the news as the markets opened, and is trading 5 percent higher than its previous close.
EaseMyTrip’s decision came after a series of seemingly innocuous events ended up escalating, and pitted Indian social media users against government Ministers from Maldives. Last week, Indian PM had visited Lakshadweep, and shared some stunning pictures from the island. The pictures had gone viral, and this had prompted some Indian social media users to make comparisons with Maldives, urging Indian tourists to visit the domestic Lakshadweep instead of the more expensive Maldives.
But Maldives’ social media users weren’t happy with the comparison. In particular, some government ministers from Maldives went on to make racist comments, saying that Indian hotel rooms in Lakshadweep would be “smelly” and dirty. Indian social media users then unearthed some older posts on X by these government ministers, in which they’d made further racist comments about Indians, with references to cow dung and other objectionable comments.
This drew the ire of Indian social media users, who then began a full-fledged campaign asking for a boycott of Maldives to the favour of Lakshasweep. As the social media outrage grew, the Maldives government was forced issue a statement distancing itself from the ministers who’d made the remarks. A while later, the ministers who’d made the remarks were also reportedly suspended.
But amidst this drama, EaseMyTrip came out with a statement last night saying it was suspending flights to Maldives. “Our company is entirely homegrown and made in India, CEO Nishant Pitti said in a video statment released today. “Amid the row over Maldives MP’s post on PM Modi’s visit to Lakshadweep, we have decided that we will not accept any bookings for Maldives…We want Ayodhya and Lakshadweep to turn out as international destinations,” he added.
Pitti’s statement has now gone viral on social media, and there are thousands of responses from Indian users saying that they’ll book tickets on EaseMyTrip instead of other alternatives. The company’s stock has also jumped, and is now up 5 percent in a single day. Which just goes to show that seizing the moment — and ending up on the right side of any social media divide as the majority of your customers — can end up creating a powerful marketing moment in these digitally-connected times.