(Try singing the title to the tune of the ghazal, ‘Hungama hai kyon, Barpa?’)
By now, most people, who are reasonably online, know what happened to Myntra a week ago.
For those who were living under a digital rock, a short recap.
An Instagram handle posted a tirade against multiple e-commerce brands seeking their boycott.
From there, it took off on Twitter, evolving into a trending topic.
The irony is that Myntra was never involved in any of this… and this is a creative by an online portal called ScrollDroll from the year 2016!
Back in 2016, Myntra did all the right things expected from standard-issue Online Reputation Management (ORM) guidelines.
Explicitly disassociated itself from the creative.
Publicly mentioned that they are legally pursuing this against the online publication.
Replied to as many people as was humanly possible that they are not associated with this creative in any way.
Time passed. We are now in 2021, around the same period as the original outrage – end of August!
This time Myntra has maintained total silence. No official explanation, no reply to anyone… no comments to even media covering the new outrage!
After all, Myntra did not have anything to do with the cause of the online outrage even back in 2016, and made it clear even back then.
Usually, brands choose silence when they do not want to make something bigger than what it is. That is, when they think that the outrage is by a smaller ragtag online bunch and that speaking officially about the issue may make the outrage legitimate. The idea is that speaking about the outrage may give an impression that because the brand has spoken about it, it is bothered enough about the outrage (in terms of acknowledgment of the problem).
In this case, back in 2016, Myntra did find it important to acknowledge the outrage mainly because it was widespread, and more importantly because they really did not have anything with the source of the outrage.
In 2021, though, they maintained a stoic silence all through.
One reason for the silence is that Myntra assumed that, this time around, the noise was not as much as the 2016 outrage (based on their assessment). That is a miscalculation, however. The outrage was adequate enough for mainstream media to take note and report on it.
Another reason could be simply that Myntra assumed that, like anything, ‘this too shall pass’. That’s the broader nature of online outrage anyway. However, the very same Myntra capitulated unusually swiftly when an alternative interpretation of its logo was floated, earlier this year.
Yet another reason could be that Myntra assumed that since it has already made its stand clear and washed its hands off the source of the outrage, there is no need to reiterate that 5 years hence. In fact, many people who saw the outrage-laden tweets took the effort to point out that,
a. the outrage is piling on a 2016 creative, and
b. that Myntra had nothing to do with it even back in 2016
However, a completely different reason could also be the potential to rake in further questions if Myntra officially reacted again, in 2021. For instance, what should Myntra say, if, in response to the brand clearing the air again, someone asks, ‘Did you go after ScrollDroll legally as you committed to, so vociferously, in 2016? What is the update?’.
Going legally after some online publication for a throwaway creative is not worth Myntra’s (or any brand’s) time and effort. ScrollDroll cleared the air in 2016 and cleared Myntra’s name too at that point. That should be the end of this chapter. That could have been Myntra’s closure too, but since they claimed that they are indeed pursuing this legally, reacting now could rake in that claim and an answer sought as part of the renewed outrage in 2021.
Still, I reckon that Myntra should have reacted with whatever it can, even in 2021, mainly because they absolutely had nothing whatsoever with the source of the outrage. To expect that others with some sense would come to the brand’s rescue by pointing out that Myntra had nothing to do with the source of the outrage is one thing, and to hasten that process by refreshing people’s memories through an official disclaimer by the brand itself is entirely another.
The people coming to the rescue of the brand by simply pointing out the basic truth and common sense is as ragtag a bunch as those who are outraging. The brand, however, has outsized influence and reach, and it, making the common sense and truth obvious again, officially, would help stamp out the ferocity of the outrage much faster. This is particularly relevant because the brand was not tongue-tied, and it has an entirely legitimate and logical response in this case.
It is rather surprising that Myntra chose to sleep it out, let the outrage fester for more than a week, and extend the life of the outrage machine. Myntra is definitely not a novice when it comes to ORM and the brand would have absolutely been tracking the outrage in real-time. But, when a brand does have a logical stand, it is best to make it public sooner so that every subsequent outrage-laden comment could be answered by completely normal people (and not necessarily influencers) who are made aware of the truth.
This does not mean that Myntra needs to react to individual tweets and messages as they did in 2016.
A simple clarification from the brand’s handle should do. It is a broadcast, intended to clear the air and refresh people’s memories.
The logic is very simple – the outrage machine rekindled memories of a 2016 creative that Myntra did not create; so, it is natural for Myntra to also rekindle memories of their 2016 clarification.