When opportunistic advertising bombed

It was a smart move, but not the best one. Bizarre remedies are being touted as means to fight and even cure Coronavirus – from cow urine to Giloy to Ashwagandha to even alcohol and marijuana. Looking to tap into a moment marketing opportunity, Mumbai-based company, Arihant put out a print ad in the Bombay Samachar, claiming that its mattress is anti-fungal, anti-allergic and is resistant to the Coronavirus! The mattress is priced at ₹15,000. 

Soon after the ad appeared, it has been heavily trolled. Here’s how Twitteratis and industry personnel have reacted to the mattress ad: 

The mattress ad has alco come under the scanner of the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI, said, “ASCI is looking into all complaints being flagged to us by consumers pertaining to potentially misleading claims. In case of the ‘anti-coronavirus’ mattress, the advertiser concerned immediately agreed to withdraw the claims as soon as we reached out to them. In exceptional circumstances, when it appears prima facie that an advertisement is in serious breach of the ASCI Code and its continued transmission on/ through/ by any medium causes or has the effect of causing public harm and/or injury or its continuation is against public interest, then the ASCI would, pending investigation, forthwith direct the advertiser/ the advertising agency/ the media buying agency and the media concerned to suspend the advertisement.” 

While some advertisers are taking the route of leveraging the mass fear over the virus spread. there are a few players who have come out with good creatives for their consumers and also providing solutions to protect themselves from the virus. Here are a few examples: 

Talking about opportunistic advertising and some players who are doing good work, Karthik Srinivasan said, “Not all advertising that mentions Coronavirus or Covid-19 are opportunistic, in my view. There are products and services that make use of the word in a legitimate sense – they either have a service (e-commerce, food delivery) that can help you manage the social distancing caused by Coronavirus or have products that can help in one of the many ways (disinfectants, hand-wash, hand sanitizer, video conferencing tools, etc.). It is only when marketers use it with no context or with no purpose does it become part of irresponsible disinformation more than simply being opportunistic. Like the one around camphor or the mattress ad.”


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