Troika Consulting was one of the many organizations that had come under fire for seeking to use the Nepal tragedy for their marketing purposes. They had come up with this image hours after the news of the Nepal earthquake broke.
The company had drawn criticism from several quarters on social media following this update. OfficeChai too had carried an article which talked about the issue. Following the publication of this piece, the PR team of Troika Consulting got in touch with us and gave us their side of the story. We reproduce the email that we received.
This is in response to an article in your publication about brands leveraging Earthquake for marketing their products. We are one of the brands which has been mentioned in the article.
We wanted to have an opportunity to share our viewpoint and experience on the mentioned post.
We did not intend to be mean to an event or any person. The creative that we posted (attaching with this mail for your reference) is not intended towards earthquake victims. It, on the other hand, is a pun intended towards people who are so addicted to the social media platforms that they can not get away from it even in the middle of a crisis. It is a take on our obsession with social media, and not the crisis per say.
We are at pains to explain our view point to many people, not because we made that post, but because as marketeers and creative people we need to understand for ourselves on where the boundaries lie.
Any communication piece that is made today can almost always be called insensitive towards some people. Commercials for fairness creams are insensitive towards dark skinned people, commercials for a green tea which can help one shed weight is insensitive towards obese people and so on and so forth.
Let us not even compare these products. Let us compare something as sad as an earthquake.
Road accidents kill close to 2 lakh people every year in India. Communication pieces which promote products (e.g tyres) citing road accidents/safety would certainly be insensitive towards a person who lost a dear one in a road accident. Cancer kills 5 lakh people per year in India. An ad showing how cancer saps away your funds and why you should take ABC health insurance is by very nature insensitive towards someone who lost his parent or child to cancer (and I am one of them).
But is the solution as simple as just taking everything off air?
Our post received mixed reaction. There were as many people who supported us and told us not to take the post down, as the ones who threatened us to delete the post. In absence of an argument the people against the post started to abuse the other set. Unmentionable hashtags started to appear, death threats were passed over comments, abuses were hurled without even giving us a chance to speak. It did not remain sane. It became personal. It became a shouting match. We chose not to answer in the same language.
We decided to delete the post and expressed regret as there was so much negativity by few people that deleting the post and bringing normalcy to an otherwise grim situation seemed to be the only sensible choice. This might have missed your attention as it was on Facebook Media Jobs Group only for a few hours before the administrator of the page deleted the post.
We feel once again the freedom of expression was taken away without been given a chance to explain or understand. We could be right. We could be wrong. But we surely had clear intentions and people like us need to be heard if we have to keep freedom of expression alive.
As a marketeer living in an open society with a lot happening around us we do feel that till such time that a communication piece is not mocking anyone’s loss we should support it. May be a healthy debate is required on this topic and we would surely like to express our view point in case you ever undertake this initiative as a leading publication on issues related to media.
Nevertheless we have faith that you will understand the point we are trying to make here. Even if you disagree we would gladly accept it once it is reasoned out. It has been a learning and humbling experience overall in the past couple of days and we hope to continue contributing to the industry with our work in a positive manner.