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You’ve got trolled: Brands wars unleash on Twitter

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MUMBAI: With the social media explosion, everyone has access to everyone today and freedom of speech has taken on a completely different meaning. Not so long ago, there was no way you and I could tell an Amitabh Bachchan or a Shah Rukh Khan what we thought of their performance in a particular movie. Today, each one of us is a self-proclaimed critic thanks to social media.

While we’ve witnessed squabbles galore on social media… some big, some small… between celebrities or politicians, now even brands have taken to this medium to poke fun at rivals.

Surely gone are the days when brand wars happened on television. Twitter has now become the new battlefield for interesting and hilarious episodes of mudslinging between brands.

Trolling amongst brands is unique and hadn’t been witnessed much in India until recently. Such banter is open in markets like the US and the UK where TV ads show competition brands and demean them or for that matter verbal war on Twitter or on social media. However, the Indian market is slowly warming up to Twitter wars.

Here’s a look at how some giants picked on and trolled their competitors on Twitter:

Amazon vs. Zomato

In April this year Amazon sarcastically picked on Zomato saying, “Zomato loved all the logos you used in the last 6 months. Was #AurDikhao the brief to your designer? :)”

To which Zomato wittily replied “@amazonIN you should've seen the ones that didn't make the cut ;)” Attached with the tweet was a mock Zomato logo with an arrow pointing from Z to A, clearly mimicking the arrow from A to Z that features in the Amazon logo.

What’s more other brands like Flatchat and Urban Ladder too joined in it banter, which made for some witty and cheeky reading.

The repartee between Amazon and Zomato also led to a lot of Twitter interactions among fans and followers of both the brands.

Snapdeal vs. Flipkart

India’s e-commerce giants, Snapdeal and Flipkart have also entered into a war of words on Twitter. Following Snapdeal founder Rohit Bansal’s interview with a US publication, the war broke open on Twitter about the talent India has and doesn’t.

It all began with Rohit, who said that India didn’t have the programmers it needed. To this, Flipkart’s Sachin Bansal reacted by tweeting, “Don’t blame India for your failure to hire great engineers. They join for culture and challenge.”

The statement was indeed misunderstood by Flipkart. Rohit clarified the attack in a blog post last week where he said that he had been quoted out of context. He clarified that while India has “some of the smartest engineers on the planet,” building large technology product firms is a more recent phenomenon.

He said Snapdeal would continue to hire technology talent locally and bring on board “some select folks from around the world who have had the experience of building technology at scale.”

He signed off saying, “An Indian engineer who's trying to make the country a better place with a rock star team.”

Asus vs. Apple

In case you thought that only BlackBerry picked on Apple, think again! This time it’s Asus and how? In an attempt to mock Apple (which is really lame), Asus has picked on Apple’s Mac Book by sticking two pen drives in a real apple.

Apple’s recently launched new Mac Book has only one USB port, which has restricted users. Asus is trying to strike at the Mac Book’s armour by giving consumer a host of ports ranging from a microphone-in jack to three USB 3.0 ports to card readers in its recently launched Zen book UX305.

Kotak vs. ICICI Bank

Not all brands appreciate that competition is healthy. In February this year, Kotak and ICICI Bank picked on each other on Twitter. Kotak Mahindra Bank started the Kotak Jifi saver campaign #hashtagbanking in February. Soon after the launch of the social media banking service, ICICI Bank came up with their #icicibankpay on Twitter.

Gone are the days when brands used to pick on each other with their television commercials. In modern times like today, Twitter seems to be the platform for brands that are open about criticizing and also appreciating sarcasm. In the end, it all boils down to being a sport and taking bouquets and brickbats from competitors with a pinch of salt and dollops of humour.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com about brand wars on Twitter, Ogilvy and Mather executive creative officer Sumanto Chattopadhyay says, “It’s interesting how brands engage in the war of words with each other on social media. In the US it is a common thing as brands openly criticize other brands in their TVCs and otherwise. India is slowly going that way. As a consumer, it is interesting as we enjoy how brands have silly wars. Not only that, Twitter is a medium that is more public and hence gets noticed a lot more than any other media, so it might be to grab more eyeballs as well.”

An industry veteran tells us on condition of anonymity that it depends on the aggression of the brand as to where to take the war. “Yes, probably Twitter is the new war place,” she adds.

Opining on the same, Leo Burnett chief creative officer Rajdeepak Das says, “It’s fun to see brands pick on each other in a very healthy manner on Twitter. Earlier it used to happen on television and due to restrictions of the medium, it is now happening on social media.”

Das further says that because Twitter is a public platform, a large number of engagements happen. Additionally, the medium doesn’t have restrictions. Hence it is fun to see brands pick on each other. Another point is that both brands understand the sarcasm and take it sportingly.

Shop CJ marketing head Donald Kwag said that with “Twitter wars” breaking out left, right and centre, it’s hard to ignore the growing trend – and lately, more and more brands are joining in on the fun. “Given the time and effort dedicated to defining a brand’s social tone of voice, it makes sense for marketers to use that voice effectively – and one way to do this is to make the most of opportunities to engage other brands across social communities. By capitalizing on borrowed equity – when appropriate – brands will be able to showcase an authentic, playful side and, by doing so, reach entirely new audiences online,” Kwag says.

There’s a thin line between healthy banter and below the belt slugging. When it comes to brands, reputation, values and perception matters more than anything especially when battle lines are drawn publicly on a free-to-all platform.

In the end, there’s no love lost as long as they can get away by simply saying, “No hard feelings bro.”

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