Yesterday, Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli shared a post on Instagram praising Lovely Professional University (LPU) for producing a large number of Olympians. Virat Kohli shared a post on Instagram captioned, “India needs 10 more LPUs. Best of luck to the 11 LPU students who are representing India at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. Truly a great achievement!” He went onto tweet, “What a record! 10% of Indian Olympians are from Lovely Professional University. I hope LPU will send students to the Indian Cricket team also! Jai Hind!”.
All hell broke loose thereafter on social media. Twitter was flooded with uncharitable and acidic comments:
- Kitna INR mila is Chiz ka? (paise ka chakkar Babu bhaiya paise ka)
7/11 are hockey player just lost 7-1,yes they tried with full efforts … aur t**** college hai do note that
Yaha pe attendance pe marks milte hai n they become graduates
- 7 to Hockey team me hai. How come 11 medals?
Nevertheless, the post had accumulated 2,372,832 likes in 10 hours.
For those who may not be familiar, Lovely Professional University is a private university in Phagwara, near Jalandhar in Punjab. LPU was established in 2005 by Lovely International Trust, also the owners of Lovely Sweets well known for its moti-choor boondi laddoos! LPU claims that it is ranked among the “Top Six Promising Universities of India”, whatever that means. Virat Kohli ostensibly applauded Lovely Professional University (LPU) because a total of eleven LPU students are representing India at the marquee Tokyo Olympics. But his tweets generated a lot of headwinds and negative feedback from social media users.
Wrestler Bajrang Punia is pursuing an MA at the university, para-athlete Nishad Kumar and javelin thrower Neeraj Chopra are pursuing their BA degrees. Amoju Jacob is doing BPEd. A total of seven players of the Indian hockey team are pursuing their studies at LPU: those doing an MBA include Manpreet Singh, Rupinderpal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Shamsher Singh and Varun Kumar. Dilpreet Singh and Mandeep Singh are pursuing graduate studies.
The official account of LPU posted a tweet: WOW! What an unbelievable moment of pride for LPU as @imVkohli says that India needs 10 more LPUs!
And that got many a twitterati up in arms.
- Kohli fans so inspired they dropped IIT and NEET preparations, all of them joining LPU
- I wish virat kohli had passed out from LPU, then he could have easily won the finals i guess. Just saying
- Virat Kohli's 99% tweets and Instagram posts are paid! Aaj to bhai ne LPU ko bhi promote kar diya! He earns so much money from Cricket, still its not enough!
- Virat Kohli is such an idiot man why tf are you promoting LPU of all the Universities! Kitna paisa kamayega aur bhai
- My brother has been stuck with this JEE madness and wants to find a college ASAP to get out of the exams rut. Even then he rejected LPU
- @imVkohliis promoting Lovely Professional University!!! I dont care if you have a million runs in your kitty but HAVE SOME SHAME MAN. LITERALLY...!!!
- Modiji bhi to gaye LPU. 1. Modiji honorary guest the convocation me. 2. Modiji ne paise nahi liye the promotion ke. 3. Modiji ne Olympics ke bahaane paid promotion nahi kiya tha.
- He works as a Social Media influencer also these days
- Nothing wrong in it. President khud kyu jata unki convocation me itna rehta agr
Should the Indian captain really have used his social media clout – he has 138 million followers on Instagram, 40.8 million followers on Twitter and over 36 million likes on Facebook – to promote a second rate University well known for being a commercial churner of sub-standard education? Everyone knows that Kohli’s tweets were paid for. The often-holier-than-thou Indian captain who many a times takes ‘principled’ stands against products like colas and more, surely picked a wrong one this time for patronage and praise.
But Virat Kohli cannot be singled out for reprimand. Over the years, LPU has managed to attract the likes of Shivraj Patil, Hon’ble Governor of Punjab as the chief guest at its first convocation; Mr. Leszek Borysiewicz, Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University was the chief guest at the second convocation of LPU; President of India Mr.Pranab Mukherjee along with the President of Afganistan Mr.Hamid Karzai came to the third convocation; Honorable President of Mauritius Mr. Rajkeswur Purryag was the chief guest of the fourth convocation; Prime Minister of Kingdom of Lesotho, Honourable Dr. Pakalitha B. Mosisili and Nobel Laureate for Peace His Holiness Dalai Lama graced the fifth convocation; Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica and Her Excellency Dr. Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim, President of the Republic of Mauritius gave out the degrees at the sixth and seventh convocations; The Hon’ble President of India Padma Vibhushan Shri Pranab Mukherjee came back for the eighth; Hon’ble Vice President of India Shri Muppavarapu Venkaiah Naidu presided over the ninth convocation; The Vice-President of the Republic of Surinam, Dr. Michael Ashwin Satyandre Adhin presided over the tenth convocation.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited LPU to inaugurate the 106th Indian Science Congress ‘ISC-2019’ and delivered the inaugural address. With such luminaries coming to the University, was Virat Kohli entirely in the wrong in praising the sending of 11 Olypians to Tokyo by LPU? He could well say that he went by the facts. And in that he would not be entirely wrong.
But then everyone knows that the Kohli post was a paid post. Should the Indian captain stoop so low for money, which he apparently has enough of anyway? He is after all an icon to millions: can his endorsement mislead his myriad followers? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Virat Kohli should know where to draw the line. There is no code of conduct required. It is purely discretionary, and purely a matter of personal judgment. His personal brand is precious. Very precious. Tarnishing it by association with dubious entities is not a very good idea. MS Dhoni learnt that the hard way by endorsing Amrapali, the real estate brand. It brought him a lot of disrepute and negativity. Kohli has been butchered on twitter on LPU: to me it looked a wholly unnecessary tweet.
Facebook ads and promoted tweets are easily recognisable as advertisements. However, Twitter endorsements from a celebrity can easily be deemed as misleading as it is not made clear that the celeb has been paid to tweet. It’s something that the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) should take note of; the violation of its influencer marketing guidelines is as plain as day, with millions of gullible followers sure to take Kohli’s promotion and praise of LPU as genuine.
Dr. Sandeep Goyal is chief mentor of the Indian Institute of Human Brands and Managing Director of ad agency, Rediffusion.