#SnapdealForIndia faces #AppWapsi after recent Aamir Khan controversy

'A celebrity endorsement can make or break a brand.'

Quoted from Countering Brandjacking in the Digital Age by Christopher Hofman and Simeon Keates, the statement strikes a key note with the eCommerce giant Snapdeal's current situation with its brand ambassador, actor Aamir Khan.

In a recent interview at the Ramnath Goenka Awards 2015, the actor had spoken about "growing disquiet" in India and had also remarked that his wife had once asked him whether they should move out of the country! Though Khan has come out with an official statement defending his stand on the matter, the damage has already been done.

An excerpt from Khan's official statement reads: "Neither I, nor my wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country. We never did, and nor would we like to in the future. Anyone implying the opposite has either not seen my interview or is deliberately trying to distort what I have said. India is my country, I love it, I feel fortunate for being born here, and this is where I am staying. To all those people who are calling me anti-national, I would like to say that I am proud to be Indian, and I do not need anyone's permission nor endorsement for that."

The angry netizens however took to Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to  protest against actor Aamir Khan's controversial comment on India's growing intolerance. Snapdeal, a brand that the actor endorses was also dragged into this by the netizens and the brand has since been facing the brunt of their anger. 

Lately, Snapdeal has come out with an official statement dissociating the brand's association of any kind with Khan's comments.

"Snapdeal is neither connected nor plays a role in comments made by Aamir Khan in his personal capacity. Snapdeal is a proud Indian company built by passionate young Indians focused on building an inclusive digital India. Everyday we are positively impacting thousands of small businesses and millions of consumers in India. We will continue towards our mission of creating one million successful online entrepreneurs in India," said a spokesperson from Snapdeal.

With an all encompassing growth of social media, the common man's access to celebrities and brands have enhanced, and so did the threats to corporations and brands in both number and variety. Celebrity endorsements doesn’t escape the purview of this double edged sword that the digital platform brings along with its many benefits. Within hours of #AppWapsi going viral on Twitter and Facebook, Snapdeal saw over 70,000 one star ratings being hurled at their app on Google's Play Store.

Some even took to the review space to write negative messages to the online shopping platform, explaining their reasons to pull out of the brand's services.

Whether the brand will take the threats seriously  and snap the deal with Aamir Khan is a question that remains to be answered.

A veteran media planner told under conditions of anonymity, that it is unlikely that Snapdeal will walk that route.  Moreover, "a major part of the contract tenure has run its course and there is no discussion on reevaluating the endorsement contract or talks of ceasing it," he says, adding, "Diwali is the main season when it comes to sales, and even for marketing and promotions in this quarter. With Diwali over, we don't see major changes in Snapdeal's endorsement contract with Aamir Khan

Question of the hour is-, has the #AppWapsi campaign brought down Snapdeal's brand value by any significant score?

"Snapdeal is a major brand with a huge customer base. I don't think this campaign will affect the brand that easily. This is a passing phase. Before it affects Snapdeal, it will effect Aamir Khan at the box office, which I feel is less  likely a chance," points out an expert under promise of anonymity.

Seconding that opinion is another expert from the industry. "It may influence the brand's image only temporarily but will fade away as fickle minded mass will move on to another controversy and forget Snapdeal. So yes, there will definitely be an impact on Snapdeal, but I don't see it last longer. At the end of the day consumers' relation with Snapdeal is the product and this controversy won't come in the way of the sales. We aren't even sure if those angry comments have come from consumers who make a difference in the brand's sales at all"

While most market analyst and planners feel that the situation doesn't call for a knee jerk reaction, Snapdeal's official statement dissociating themselves from Aamir Khan's comment shows that the brand isn't completely unaffected.

"If the ratings affects the performance of the app, then it will definitely be detrimental to the brand. It may also affect the brand value. The brand needs to communicate their perspective to the consumers. "shares a veteran media analyst and planner.

Meanwhile, counter argument in favour of Snapdeal has also gained ground over the net, with some supporters belonging to Khan's fan base. The uncanny of all was the tweet from Snapdeal's rival, Flipkart's Sachin Bhansal, who earlier tweeted defending Snapdeal.

Sachin Bansal @_sachinbansal This is a flawed logic. Brands don't buy into brand ambassadors personal opinions. @snapdeal shouldn't face this SnapdealForIndia is the campaign used to counter #AppWapsi, where happy Snapdeal consumers are taking to social media to share how the brand has helped the country in the past. Snapdeal's official handle on Twitter immediately jumped to retweet posts that spoke well of the brand.

Infact, the page is running a contest asking consumers to give 'honest reviews and rankings' of their app on Google Play to win prizes.

Whether these efforts will save Snapdeal from being dragged+AKA-further+AKA-into its brand ambassador's mess, only time will tell.

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