The new Zomato ad may generally seem like a severe stretch and massively pointless. After all, who really cares how Zomato is pronounced as long as we get what we want, on time?

But, like all good campaigns, the Zomato campaign seems to be based on 2 of advertising’s time-tested factors – user insight, and exaggeration.

User insight? Oh yes. Tons of people have discussed, wondered, and deliberated on how Zomato is pronounced over the years. Here’s a tiny sample:

What Zomato’s insight research may also inform them is that beyond just informal debates and discussions, most people don’t care about the brand’s pronunciation either way. There is a natural curiosity about the pronunciation, but nothing much beyond that.

That’s where the second part comes in. If people don’t take the pronunciation seriously, why not exaggerate the debate around the pronunciation to create drama?

What would such exaggeration mean from the brand’s context?

One, it may reiterate the brand name to the respective groups that have been pronouncing it as Zo-may-to and Zo-maah-to.

Two, for those who had no clue that there was actually some—however limited—debate about Zomato’s pronunciation, it informs that there is indeed some debate 🙂

Three, it creates a drama-filled narrative out of what seems totally inconsequential, using exaggeration, one of advertising’s most cherished creative devices. It does so by polarising and pitting the 2 groups against each other even as the whole thing seems like a storm in a teacup. But that’s the very definition of exaggeration.

To be sure, Zomato isn’t the first brand to make a brouhaha over how the name is pronounced. Several brands have done it in the past, but Zomato is perhaps the first one to exaggerate the idea by pitting 2 groups against each other and mining dark humor out of the resulting animosity.

Hyundai most recently (December 2022) released a campaign in the UK (by the agency Innocean) where they showcased the range of pronunciations the brand gets, most notably Hi-yun-dai!

The irony, though, is the simple fact that Hyundai UK itself used to call it Hi-yun-dai in their own ads most recently! Here’s a February 2022 campaign by Hyundai UK!

The peanut butter brand Jif used the pronunciation difference between Gif and Jif to build its campaign (by Publicis Groupe’s Power of One solution, PSOne, a bespoke agency for The JM Smucker Company that owns the brand) in early 2020.

The UK-based groceries chain Nisa (Northern Independent Supermarkets Association) used the pronunciation conundrum as a starting point to create a catchy song for its campaign in 2014, made by the agency Green Cave People.

The automotive repair chain Meineke used the fact that most people struggle to pronounce the German brand name in the US in its February 2022 campaign by the agency Erich & Kallman.

Fyffes, a fruit/fresh produce company used the pronunciation of the brand name as a narrative device to announce how and why the brand is pronounced, in 2019.

Closer home, the Indian arm of the German brand Schindler used pronunciation as a creative device to help people understand how to pronounce their own brand name, via a campaign conceived by Ginger Monkey. Unlike Zomato, which is a consumer brand, far fewer people may even bother about how to pronounce Schindler, as B2B brand. So, from an employer branding point of view, the narrative layered the pronunciation of Schindler along with other commonly mispronounced words and presented it in the form of a quiz.

Mobile phone brand iQOO too used the same idea for a campaign:

Ditto for Schwarzkopf India:

I’m surprised Myntra hasn’t thought of the campaign that Zomato eventually went with. I have heard so many bizarre pronunciations of Myntra, including one that rhymes with Nayanthara – Mayanthara!