Do not fall for misinformation – the Scotch-Brite case study

Day 1 – Wednesday, July 15, 2020

I write about Scotch-Brite India logo having an image (vector) of a woman in it, positively surprised at finding it there. I also include my research into finding out how this vector even made it to a logo! And if other countries where Scotch-Brite sells in also have this vector at the logo level. Answer: Yes, they had, but as those countries evolved, this ‘woman’ vector was dropped from the logo. In India, when the brand was launched first in the 90s, they made the woman-vector uniquely Indian by adding a bindi to her – possibly to make it instantly relatable in India.

My full blog post: https://bit.ly/scrub3m

Here’s the full LinkedIn post: (note: my post does not include the word ‘regressive’. Remember this, since this is important later in this post)

My post’s crux was that while in the 90s connecting cleaning products directly with women at the logo level may have seemed like a normal thing to do, in 2020, it is completely out of place. And that the company should reconsider their logo.

I was pleasantly surprised to see 3M India’s marketing head respond to my post on LinkedIn with a very open and pragmatic outlook.

He pointed out that this was indeed a legacy logo from the 90s and that even their ad campaigns have started talking about house-work being meant for everyone, not just women. And hence they would make a change in the logo by dropping this woman-vector as they have done in other countries.

Here’s his full reply. (Note that his reply doesn’t include the word ‘bindi’. Remember this)

Here is the ad he is referring to.

His reply was the most Liked on the comments section, rightly so, given that the seemingly complex task of changing a brand’s logo was openly committed to in the response.

Other opinions around the post and response included,

  • Isn’t this too small a thing to even point out?
  • Nobody even noticed that woman-vector! If it’s hardly noticeable, why remove it at all?
  • This is woke-nonsense. Just because there’s a woman in the logo, it doesn’t mean only they have to use it.
  • Women are the main influencers and buyers of these products, so marketing-wise it is very accurate.

These are counter-opinions, and I understand and appreciate them, though I do not agree with them.

Day 2 – Thursday, July 16, 2020

A few media outlets pick up the brand’s response as the right thing to do.

The trouble started with the abridged versions of the news, primarily the version shared by InShorts. It pointed to the full story in complete detail (in Hindustan Times), but the shorter lead-in to the full story was dangerously misleading.

My post has bindi ONLY in context to the logo evolution, from outside-India woman-vector to an India-centric woman-vector. My post doesn’t have the word ‘regressive’.

The brand’s reply talks about gender parity and even refers to their new campaign where they assert that house-work is for everyone, not just women. The reply doesn’t even have the word ‘bindi’.

But take a look at InShorts’ micro-version.

It directly puts ‘bindi’ and ‘regressive’ within spitting distance of each other and people started jumping to a horribly mangled conclusion that the brand claimed that bindi is regressive, instead of reading the full news to find that the brand claimed ‘connecting only women, at a logo level, to household cleaning’ is regressive.

And then it started a whirlwind on Twitter, even trending, confoundingly.

I found a couple of leading voices who led the outrage and reasoned with them on Twitter.

One of them even clearly put the blame on InShorts’ version being the culprit, implying that the way they have edited the full story is her interpretation and not the full story at all.

But it was too late by then. The more people saw the outrage first and then the InShorts’ version, the less they wanted to know more to figure out the truth. They didn’t even wonder if there’s more – they simply took InShorts’ micro 5-lines as the full story!

This is a text-book case of misinformation.

Not disinformation, but misinformation.

Disinformation is wrong information shared deliberately, while misinformation is wrong information shared accidentally.

Thankfully, by the end of the day (and early next day – today), I see some of the people who started the outrage seeing sense in the full story and being graceful enough to offer clarification.

Even InShorts updated their short lead-in to represent the actual story accurately, in the headline.

So, remember – you may be misinformed. Please get to the truth before forming an opinion.

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