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    How EaseMyTrip Capitalized on Controversy


    How EaseMyTrip Capitalized on Controversy

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    Beyond Beaches: How EaseMyTrip ran with BOLD and Nationalistic as a  Marketing Strategy

    By: By Ambika Sharma, Chief Strategist. Pulp Strategy

    Have you plugged into the Ease My Trip conversation yet? For those of you who haven’t there is a storm of Epic proportions brewing. There is an Ad, a print ad that has the marketing fraternity divided

    But first a quick recap & timeline of the recent Maldives-Lakshadweep controversy:

    1.  January 4, 2024: Our Honourable Prime Minister shared photographs from his visit to the Lakshadweep islands in a series of posts promoting tourism to our Union Territory.

    2.  January 5, 2024: Maldivian ministers made negative comments about India and the Prime Minister following his recent visit to Lakshadweep.

    3.  January 7, 2024: The boycott calls on social media for Maldives started on, a flood of cancellations of Maldives bookings followed.

    4.  January 8, 2024: EaseMyTrip announced the suspension of all flight bookings to the Maldives.

    5.  January 10, 2024: The ad by Ease My Trip was released.

    Note: Episodes / events not relevant to the context of the article have not been listed.

    I woke up to this ad, on the front page of a prominent newspaper. My 1st reaction was Wow! My next reaction was “ok here it comes!” and surely enough what followed was a deluge of comments, for and against.

    But let’s talk about the marketing behind the controversy Everyone who has ever worked on either side of a brand on digital is aware of the aura surrounding moment marketing. So what is the science that drives this business of sentiment, marketing and moments of opportunity?

    There is a formula we have for moment marketing something that one could refer back to long after this controversy has faded.

    The Moment Marketing Formula

    Relevance: The event or moment should be relevant to your brand and your audience.Ease My Trip is a travel bookings brand. They book trips to the Maldives as well.
    Timing: The response should be timely. The sooner you respond to the moment, the better.January 7, 2024: The boycott calls on social media for Maldives started. Ease My Trip’s announcement came on the 8th of Jan
    Authenticity: Your message should align with your brand’s voice and values.Their announcement, amidst the boycott calls was to suspend all Maldives flight bookings.
    Audience Engagement: The moment should be something that your audience cares about.As of January 16, 2024, there have been more than 300 thousand posts on social media calling to boycott the Maldives.
    Risk Assessment: Consider the potential risks. Ensure the moment won’t alienate or offend your audience.Ease My Trip has seen a massive spike in branded searches. (data reference enclosed below) 

    This is a moment, and looks like the moment belongs to EaseMyTrip

    as far as marketing goes at least. Marketing, since its inception has made human sentiment the heart of its strategy. At times when the product is common, the human sentiment and the brand is the entire strategy.

    Let’s Talk about the Nationalist messaging | Nation before Business

    In the context of nationalism brands wear their origins like badges of honour, and for good reason. Aligning with the "positive sentiment" of their home country creates a powerful emotional connection with customers, fostering loyalty and trust. Remember Levi's in the Soviet era - a symbol of freedom! In the recent US-Russia situation, Look at the exodus of major players like McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and H&M,

    A brand will drop a brand ambassador if they spark controversy, which adversely impacts business. Navigating this terrain requires careful consideration of context, values, and stakeholder expectations. But done right, it can be a powerful win-win: a boost for national pride, a positive halo effect for the brand, and a contribution to a stronger country. In the dynamic landscape of marketing, the ability to assess sensitive geopolitical scenarios is crucial. Easy My Trip seems to have got this right.

    In a recent LinkedIn post, I applauded the strategic move of Ease My Trip, an online travel platform amidst this controversy. The decision to cancel all flights to Maldives, coupled with a pro-nation stance showcased in a newspaper ad, exemplifies the relationship between brands and their home countries.

    However, a brand's association with controversy doesn't merely stop at market exits. Multiple brand ambassadors have been dropped by companies when their actions or statements sparked public outrage. Whether it’s India or a marketing ecosystem of the West, there have been innumerable instances of brands breaking up with their ambassadors. Take Aamir Khan in India or Kanye West in the U.S. as examples. In the context of sentiment analysis, there are valuable lessons to be learned here. These strategic moves underscore the importance of aligning with values that resonate positively with the audience.

    Circling back to the midst of the Lakshadweep vs Maldives controversy, undoubtedly a pertinent player in the conversation is Ease My Trip, a prominent travel e-platform. In this daring marketing initiative, the platform can be seen combining its ethos with the core of conversation. A travel company, joining in on the hottest topic with tourism at its core; if done smartly, what could go wrong? Timing is everything in marketing, and this moment presents an opportune time for a travel platform to make a strategic move.

    As I examine this scenario, it becomes evident that Ease My Trip must have leveraged data from its own platform to make a well-informed decision.

    "It is no longer enough to satisfy your customers. You must delight them."

    -Philip Kotler

    Discussing the importance of the decision-making process in marketing, we turn to the wisdom of Philip Kotler.Kotler's insights on decision-making processes in marketing shed light on the importance of aligning actions with the brand's identity. The Lakshadweep vs Maldives tale teaches us that brands should carefully choose the issues they champion, ensuring they resonate with their core values and beliefs. It's about contributing to a stronger country while enjoying the positive effect on the brand. It does not hurt the cause that Maldives total population is approximately 524 thousand and the boycott Maldives posts as on 16th January Noon were more than 300 thousand. You get the math!.

    I firmly believe that brands play on human sentiment, and this isn't a new phenomenon. From societal shifts to geopolitical events, brands have historically capitalized on emotions to create lasting connections with their audience. In the Lakshadweep vs Maldives controversy, Ease My Trip's strategic decision aligns with this age-old practice, emphasizing the importance of sentiment analysis in contemporary marketing. Our agency advocates for a nuanced approach to marketing in the face of geopolitical controversies. It's about understanding the context, values, and stakeholder expectations to make informed decisions that contribute positively to the brand, national pride, and the overall well-being of the country.

    As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, let's remember the wisdom embedded in strategic decisions. Let's be mindful of our actions, embracing the responsibility we have as marketers to contribute positively to the society we operate in.

      • Posted By
      • Ambika Sharma - Chief Strategist at Pulp Strategy
      • January 16, 2024

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