It was a gruesome murder of an individual somewhere in the North of India. He had been run over by a car and the driver had intentionally dragged the victim's body for a distance, to take revenge over some petty dispute.
I was reading this story online, when a Hyundai Xcent car came out of nowhere and drove over the story on the digital page. As I was intently reading the story, it felt like I was being run-over by this ad. For a long time, Hyundai Xcent will rule in my mind for the ad that showed up at an inappropriate time.
Probably, the brand manager of this auto company had, and still has, no clue that his digital ad was probably getting minus marks because of an inappropriate placement. And in most cases, the brand team is not responsible for choosing the story in which the ad is being placed.
While there has been a furore, and rightly so, over ads from top brands finding themselves next to offensive content like porn, there is little attention being paid to bad timing. And even in the Hyundai Xcent case, programmatic is equally guilty.
But equally guilty are the armies of brand custodians, who throw caution and basic brand learnings to the wind. And the problem is not just online where one can easily blame technology for the gaffe.
In Mumbai’s western railway local, there are several messages urging people not to cross the railway tracks and use the footbridge instead. Some of these poster ads show horrific visuals of people being close to getting crushed by a train. Invariably, there are brands sponsoring these public service messages. In one such case, a brand named Guruji, a maker of concentrated beverages, was sponsoring these posters inside the local train. Unfortunately, the drink concentrate that the brand was advertising was called “crush”. Need I say more?