AdStand: The Fightback

Its not often that agency fights back to protect its reputation publicly. Last week this happened. Rediffusion fought back.

Its not often that consumers force a bog brand and a bigger celebrity to blink and pull out an ad, Jack and Jones was forced to eat humble pie by the consumers.


When agency fights back


The client agency relationship in India is a lopsided relationship. The clients hold all the aces and agencies are subservient. Often when the relationship ends, it’s the client’s side of story that is known, but the agency’s side of story is seldom told. Rediffusion found itself caught in the cross fire between the two warring factions of Tata Group. The outgoing Chairman of Tata Group, Cyrus Mistry alleged, among other things, in a nine page open letter released across media that there was a financial misdeed in the appointment of Rediffusion as the agency to manage the corporate reputation of Tata Group. The agency was quick to refute the allegation and released an ad of its own refuting the allegation and placing the entire matter in public domain. The ad, more of an open letter was signed by Mr. Arun Nanda, factually countered the allegation of financial misdeed.

This was a smart and concise fight back from the agency. By placing the facts in public domain, Rediffusion maintained its upper hand and did a lot to protect its reputation. While this was an expensive way of protecting reputation, its time more and more agencies found a way to put facts in public domain on the reasons behind the split. Agencies are skilled organizations and are hired for their expertise. Kudos to Rediffusion to find the gumption to stand up and be counted. It has done a huge favor to the entire communication industry


When consumers fight back


There are many brands that release ads that are misleading, portray gender equality in bad light or objectify women. Consumers do notice some of them; find a way to complain to ASCI, which takes up the matter. By the time ASCI decides, the campaign is over. Last week Jack and Jones, a leading fashion brand released a new campaign called #DontHoldback featuring Ranveer Singh. Ranveer Singh has a style of his own, and the campaign leverages that tonality to the hilt. It was one outdoor creative from the brand that generated a lot of controversy. The creative was definitely in bad taste, lesser said the better about it. Consumers on social media did go after this one piece of campaign. Over the weekend, between Friday and Monday, the outdoor got discussed and trashed by many who are the prime audience for the brand. Some of them did even file a complaint with ASCI.

By Monday evening, Jack and Jones tweeted to hundreds of tweeples that they are withdrawing the outdoor creative.

In the age of social media it is difficult for brands to walk away after doing a bad creative. The consumers today are quick to react to brands that are politically incorrect and the loss of reputation of the brands is instantaneous.


Both these instances of fightback are good instances. Consumers are the watchdogs and social media is their power. Agencies too can use a bit of this power to drive a sense of balance.

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