Did Magicbricks pose Bots as loyal customers in its ads?

On July 23, 2019, Times Group owned Magicbricks, an online portal for buying, selling and renting flats, released a print ad in The Times of India on page 5 of the Mumbai edition featuring what seemed to be a tweet by one Tara Sultana, which claimed, “Tara and 16 lakh owners trust Magicbricks to sell their property. So, what are you waiting for?”

The ad featured Tara’s tweet, where she narrated, “I was struggling to sell my property. Then I bought @magicbricks package online inclusive of a professional shoot. Got amazing results and a #perfectdeal for my property.”

Adgully started with the creative to understand how tweets are becoming an important way of brand engagement and establishing the credibility for brands. However, upon digging a bit deeper, we found that the people used as the face of the print ad – Tara Sultana, and Ankur Suman, both joined Twitter in July 2019. They have no followers on the platform, neither are they following anyone. Their only tweet is about them using Magicbricks, with the brand being the only one to reply. There is another ad on the brand’s social timelines with Ayush Mathur. However, we could also not find him.

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An industry veteran also brought this to our attention and said, “At first I thought they are merely using a tweet format with models as there is no Twitter handle mentioned. But when I searched on Twitter and found out that both Tara Sultana and Ankur Suman have only 1 tweet and nothing else. No more tweets, no responses, no likes. Nothing. Both have joined Twitter only in July 2019.”

The duo could not be found on Facebook as well, as the team at Adgully tried to search for them. While the brand named the people in their print creatives, they were not traceable on any social media platform. It is a very unlikely scenario that a brand uses a face in their creatives and the person is not present on any social media platforms. Every creative going on any medium is vetted by the marketing teams and agencies and it is not a possibility for a big brand to release a creative with information that is not verified or does not have a source.

Their Twitter accounts seemed to be like the ones created by bots, however, the brand has responded on the tweet.

Another case scenario could be that it might be a possibility that Magicbricks may not have used the correct name of the person, but then it did not also mention in the creative about any change in the name. Secondly, why would a brand need to change the name if they are trying to establish the credibility with the help of a happy customer’s testimonial?

It is never a great idea to create an ad campaign with a testimonial of a happy customer that cannot be tracked back and whose profile cannot showcase credibility. Genuinely happy customers are a brand’s greatest assets for a strong word-of-mouth.

Everyday there are hundreds of ads that are coming out in newspapers across the country showcasing and promising different things. A consumer takes these promises at face value and does not expect the brands to mislead them. There have been cases of small brands practicing such things, but a large brand is expected to deliver credibility. Most of the consumers usually do not go back and cross check the testimonials and promises. We at Adgully wonder what if consumers started verifying them?

Adgully reached out to Magicbricks to understand a bit more about the issue, but were yet to elicit a response at the time of filing this report.


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