Actor Rana Daggubati of 'Bahubali' fame recently took to Twitter to post about his sour experience with Indigo airlines. The actor reportedly had a tough time at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad after the airline misplaced his luggage. He said it was ‘India’s worst airline experience'.
Two years ago, actor Rahul Bose shared a clip on Twitter where he narrated an unexpected experience of paying Rs 442 for two bananas at a plush five-star hotel. Taking cognisance of the incident, a fine of Rs 25,000 was imposed on hotel JW Marriott, Chandigarh by the Excise and Taxation Department of the Union Territory for over-charging for fruit served to Bose in the hotel.
Social media platforms especially Twitter are replete with complaints of thousands of users who often end up complaining about products/services of airline, telecom, e-commerce or food delivery brands.
But what does open criticism from a much-loved celebrity do to a brand’s reputation? Storyboard18 speaks to branding and marketing experts to understand more.
Harish Bijoor, brand guru and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. notes that a celebrity’s negative comment is a kind of unpaid brand de-endorsement.
“This at times is more powerful and damaging than anything else. Such brand de-endorsements go hand in hand with the credibility status of the star of course!,” he notes.
“When celebrities complain on social media then besides course correction, brands may need to go the extra mile to soften the impact, by getting the CEO or a senior executive to personally intervene." - Lloyd Mathias
Lloyd Mathias, business strategist and independent director believes social media has made it easy for consumers to vent and brands to be publicly shamed, fully knowing that brands will need to respond quickly to avoid a fall-out.
“In the case of a celebrity who takes to social media the brand is even more pressured to respond and make good,” he adds.
On the contrary, Bengaluru-based communications strategy consultant Karthik Srinivasan believes that a celebrity’s criticism might not be more damaging, but it is surely more visible given the sheer numbers following celebs.
As always brands need to focus on better service delivery and experience to eliminate social media crises.
“When celebrities complain on social media then besides course correction, brands may need to go the extra mile to soften the impact, by getting the CEO or a senior executive to personally intervene. Because of celebrities’ larger sphere of influence, the damage could be substantive and getting them feeling ok (and maybe good about the brand) might be advantageous for the brand in the long term,” observes Mathias.
A common man’s complaint can also be damaging because when a nobody's (relatively; common people) Twitter complaint travels farther and becomes viral it is more impactful, points out Karthik Srinivasan.
Non-celeb complaints are damaging
Srinivasan highlights that a common man’s complaint can also be damaging because when a nobody's (relatively; common people) Twitter complaint travels farther and becomes viral it is more impactful.
“…because people would imagine themselves to be in that person's shoes (both common people, not celebs),” he observes.
Srinivasan exemplifies through a recent incident where a user named Jalaj Agarwal, with 102 followers, tweeted about Kia. His tweet went massively viral. The tweet was about a video of a Kia Motors service centre crashing Agarwal's Sonet inside the service centre.
After the reaction, Kia Motors reached out to Agarwal and replaced his car. He has deleted the entire thread and posted only the update that it has finally been sorted.
UPDATE: Thank you all for your love and support, the dealership has intervened today and promised to provide a new car of the same model as a replacement. Will post the picture of the new car as soon as I receive it.@KiaInd @RajeshKia— jalaj agarwal (@jalajagarwal222) November 25, 2022
Brand guru and founder chairman and MD of Samsika Marketing Consultants Jagdeep Kapoor is quick to add that ultimately brands have to give good brand experience to all consumers , whether it be an ordinary person or a celebrity.
“However, if the normal general experience is good, then the market leader brand moves on, with it being considered an isolated incident. A passing temporary ‘dent’ from an isolated incident,” he concludes.