How 4 brands played knight-in-shining-armor to Sonakshi Sinha’s misery

Sonakshi Sinha tweeted (note, she did not share it on Instagram where she has 17 million+ followers, but only on Twitter, where she has 14 million+ followers) on November 3rd about how IndiGo had broken her luggage. Her 30-second video detailed 2 broken handles and one missing wheel!

Airline baggage handling has a legend of its own and almost everyone has some story about their own luggage being broken. The comments below Sonakshi’s tweet is a testimony to this.

But observe the dynamics here:

  1. Sonakshi holds IndiGo responsible for the problem, by tagging them specifically.
  2. The video does not show the brand name of the luggage.
  3. Sonakshi mentions Samsonite by name towards the end of the video.
  4. Sonakshi also calls Samsonite (when seen together, the tweet and video), “broke the unbreakable” (while blaming IndiGo).

Beyond all the responses from normal people, 4 brands were seen replying and trying to ‘use’ the situation. The response and reactions say a lot about those brands and how they think they would like to do customer care/marketing!

The first one was obvious – the so-called villain of the story: IndiGo.

IndiGo’s first reaction was a baffling, “Could you please DM us your contact number…?”. The remaining part of the response was “and a convenient time to call you”, which makes sense. But the first part was almost immediately exposed as utterly pointless by an astute Twitter user.

The 2nd response is by Samsonite India, one of the ‘affected’ parties. Samsonite India is in an unfortunate situation. They call themselves unbreakable, Sonakshi calls them unbreakable, yet IndiGo has managed to the unthinkable. What can they say to make things better? Tough call!

But, they try their best within their limited means, even if Sonakshi did not blame the brand at all.

The 3rd is by Samsonite Europe!

Someone tags Samsonite’s Europe handle by mistake and they are seen to be behaving like a Government clerk passing files from one table to another, without even considering how it’d be perceived. The issue being indirectly discussed is the durability of Samsonite’s baggage. Samsonite Europe handle, that has been tagged has 2 choices:

  1. Ignore the tweet, since it is not relevant to it and since Samsonite India has already reacted.
  2. Inform Samsonite India either internally (email, DM etc.) or publicly (by tagging them) and request them to take over, visibly… while also reiterating something about the durability of their products.

But, they chose to do one thing: just pass it on.

The 4th is by VIP.

VIP India offers 2 responses, and taken together, this reminded me of the class first bencher in school who had an answer for every one of the teacher’s questions and always raised his/her hands much to everyone’s collective annoyance.

VIP first enters the fray with a ‘knight in shining armor’ mode, almost like Salman ‘Dabangg’ Khan in Sonakshi’s debut film. It offers notional sympathy and goes on to offer its own product to her.

Understandably, this leads to the simple question: is this scalable? Would VIP send free products to normal passengers who have their luggage (any brand) broke by the airlines? Of course not. For VIP, Sonakshi is a ‘marketing opportunity’, and even if it happens at the cost of a rival brand, so be it. I found VIP’s behavior a bit predatory, but if you go by, ‘all is fair in business’ (which I do not subscribe to), this is a normal affair. But then, if no other unrelated luggage brand responded, and only VIP did, then it says something about VIP’s marketing tactics, in this particular case.

VIP’s 2nd response is in reply to another brand’s very clever and funny quip (which I’ll address last).

Here, VIP showcases a video that looks like it has been shot by Sonakshi herself (though it is not available on her Twitter feed or her Instagram handle) and most probably sent only (directly) to VIP as a gesture of gratitude. In the video, Sonakshi thanks VIP by tagging their Twitter handle in the video and showcases not one, not two, not three, but 6 brand new products!!

That’s a mighty generous deal – 6 products for 1 broken product of a rival brand. Even by normal standards, that sounds like a severe overkill. I’m not sure if VIP considered how it may be seen by normal people watching this unfold in public: a celebrity with 14 million followers has her baggage, belonging to a competing brand, broken by the airlines. In response, VIP sends her, very magnanimously, 6 brand new products.

The most obvious question that would occur to any normal user of VIP’s products: ‘Wow! Would they do this for us normal folks?’.

The answer, of course, is ‘Are you out of your mind?’.

So, what does this magnanimity achieve for VIP? Does it showcase that they are a responsive brand? It does, but only to super celebrities.

Does it show that they care for their customers? They may, but in this instance, it shows that can bend over backward for celebrities even when they are not their customers!

Does it show that they are an opportunistic brand that wouldn’t think twice before jumping on another, rival brand’s misery? Of course. But then, as I mentioned again, such cut-throat tactics are seen as perfectly normal these days.

That brings me to my favorite branded response to this saga 🙂 That’s by Fevicol’s brand, Fevikwik.

Fevikwik’s always-on and even the latest campaign is about ‘fixing things’. And the brand’s response is simple and hugely contextual, using an iconic dialog from Sonakshi’s debut film.

The response seems even warmer, when seen in context to VIP’s over-enthusiastic reply: “We ‘fixed’ it’, where ‘fixing’ means literally throwing free products at the problem because there’s a celebrity at the other end worth ‘using’ free of cost (or the cost is simply the price of 6 products). I’m sure Sonakshi’s fee for endorsing the brand on Twitter would be 5-10 times more.

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