Zomato Runs Political-Style Spoof Ads On Its 16th Birthday

If you’ve spent 16 years in creating a brand image that’s hip, urban and cool, breaking it once in a while can bring plenty of eyeballs.

Zomato has run corny, political-style spoof ads on its 16th birthday. The ads were run on the front pages of prominent newspapers, and were a play on the political hoardings that dominate the landscape in the Indian hinterlands.

“16th janamadin par aap sabhi ko apna pyaar barsane ke liye koti koti dhanyawaad (Thanks a ton for showering your blessings on our 16th birthday,” the ad said with a beaming picture of Zomato founder and CEO “Sh Deepinder Goyal”. The ad referred to Goyal as “Company pramukh”, and also included the pictures of Zomato ‘co-founder’ Akriti Chopra, who was referred to as “Upp-pramukh”, Zomato CFO Akshant Goel, who was referred to as “Vittiye Vibhag”, and Rakesh Ranjan, Zomato’s head of deliveries, who was called “bhojan vitran mukhiya”. The design of the ad was very small-town India, with garish colours and loud fonts. The icing on the cake, as it were, was a pretty interesting offer — Zomato was giving away six months of Zomato Gold for just Rs. 30 on the occasion, which is a significant discount to its usual price.

Source: https://x.com/beastoftraal/status/1810888432643654113

Such ads are popular in India’s local political sphere. Supporters of candidates to positions such as sarpanch or the municipality often buy out ad spaces in papers and hoardings, giving most footage to the candidate themselves, but also ensuring that they themselves get mileage in the ads with their own, albeit smaller, pictures. These ads have become a popular meme format, and are used as a joke for several occasions.

But it’s brave for a $20 billion company to carry out such ads on the front pages of major newspapers. Zomato, though, seems so comfortable in its brand identity that it’s willing to upturn it for a day, and come up with an ad that most self-respecting copywriters would baulk at. Zomato is also playing to its young audience, which will likely understand the humour behind the ad. And crucially, Zomato CEO Deepinder Goyal, who comes across as reticent in most interviews, is willing to have his face splashed across newspapers and become the de-facto face of the brand. Zomato is no longer a startup, but its willingness to do startup-like things sets it apart in the rather staid world of publicly-listed multi-billion dollar companies.