Time and again, companies have amassed forces to protect their widely-loved brands from being hijacked or tainted. Significant budgets are allocated to pay reputation management firms to monitor the buzz surrounding well-known brands and their competitors.
In fact, the power of social media is being explored and harnessed in this direction as well. When ICANN introduced the .xxx top level domain for porn sites, giants like YouTube and several world class universities rushed to book domains containing their names to prevent their reputation from being abused.
On Getting Blackened By Coal
Now that a fresh multi-billion dollar scam involving India’s coal industry has been unearthed, will leading consumer brand Colgate find a reason to protest the use of its homophone (a word that sounds like other word, but with different spelling, in this case being Colgate and Coalgate) for the most unpleasant of reasons?
Don’t link us with the scamsters!
Colgate-Palmolive could head straight to the government agency Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) and get them to ban the hysterical media from using the word “Coalgate” to refer to the “Mother of All Scams” (Here is a look at Top 10 corruption scams in India before this one…).
Violators could be aggressively pursued, and forced to comply or pay up fines. Sorry, no prizes this time for guessing the result – there will be a sharp rise in the brand visibility for Colgate.
Colgate and Colgate-Palmolive would occupy the minds of every shopper looking for choices, giving their competitors sleepless nights for quite a while.
Right from the initiation of the proceedings, to the final outcome, whichever direction it ends up, there is a potential for incredible levels of noise generated by the trigger happy, poorly regulated Indian media.
Twitter and Facebook will be flooded with witticisms from an energetic user base. The blogosphere will instantly join in the fun as well.
What’s in a name?
Getting mass population to talk about a product is a dream come true for any brand at any stage. However, does Colgate really need to go through the stunt of moving a regulatory body, given the fact that it is among the most trusted of all Indian brands anyway?
Colgate has been synonymous with toothpaste long before India’s Independence, and seems to have a bright future ahead. In my opinion, it could be no more than just an annoyance to have future generations mistake today’s massive scam for anything to do with one of the most familiar array of household and healthcare items.
A responsible brand should probably maintain a dignified silence amidst the continuing mud-slinging in yet another ugly episode rocking India.
Would love to hear your comments on this… What do you think?
Should Colgate-Palmolive be silent or take advantage of this situation? Let us know…