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No publicity is bad publicity: true for the web too?

In this age of communication where brands are trying hard to differentiate themselves from the clutter existing the market, many players are launching innovative and unconventional marketing strategies to lure the consumer. This is one reason why we see small brands adopt guerilla marketing strategies in India.

In the light of same, many brands are following the principle of ‘No press is bad press’ and chalking out innovations in their respective field to grab the attention of the shopper. All thanks of social media that brand with limited revenue can indulge in Guerilla advertising with innovative thinking.

A couple of weeks back hospitality portals – Stayzilla.com and Oyo Rooms had got into a social media war on Twitter. According to Yogendra Vasupal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stayzilla, Oyo Rooms used trademark ‘Stayzilla’ in its ad copy. “When Oyo Rooms used our brand name (Stayzilla’s) in its ad copy to drive consumers who are looking for Stayzilla is more than just a trademark violation. There was a risk that it does not become a trend where competitors are employing similar strategies,” shared Mr Vasupal.

In response to this violation, Stayzilla started firing a series of ‘yo mama’ jokes where the battle ended with Oyo Rooms saying, “@stayzilla The issue has now been resolved. You may verify the same. Also, appreciate your help in sending more traffic to our website :).”

Positive or negative publicity can be debated but following Oyo Rooms’s Tweet it can be safely derived that it still gained traffic. There is no matrix to determine how much the brand gained in terms of visits but the buzz had certainly garnered visibility for the brand.

It is a cost-effective way to garner traffic but in long-run may hampers its image in the long-run, according to Prathap Suthan, Managing Partner and Chief Creative Officer at BangInTheMiddle. “Such practises are tactics which get a temporary spike and attention but not loyalty of the customer. To gain customer support you need turn a tactic into a strategy,” Mr Suthan added.

It is a nice way to get into the limelight but bigger brands would not want bad publicity of any kind, according to branding experts. Emerging brands in India may adopt the strategy as they struggle to create space for themselves in the market but established brand run the risk to denting their image.

Furthermore, Arnab Mitra, Co-Founder and Managing Director of LIQVD Asia pointed out that smaller brands which have a smaller equity at stake can manage bad publicity but bigger brands need to be more cautious. Also smaller brands can get more from bad publicity whereas the market biggies may not benefit in a large manner.

India has been hospitable to innovative and unconventional marketing by brands but marketers will have to wait long of see how ‘no press is bad press’ approach works for them. Social media has reduced the turnaround time for the Indian consumer to respond to such marketing but evaluating positive or negative response continues to be a challenge in such a scenario.