The Zomato Ad Controversy: Has The Ethical Debate Arrived in India, After Shaking Facebook?

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The Gurugram-based food tech unicorn Zomato is no stranger to unwanted trouble. But this time around, it managed to land in quite a different kind of pickle!

The India based food delivery startup, which is valued $3.6 billion, found itself caught amid a tweetstorm when actor Swara Bhasker decided to point out how the company was running advertisements on Republic TV.

Helmed by the well-known journalist Arnab Goswami, Republic TV is a television news media channel which is often criticised for various polarised narratives and their staunch support of the Indian government.

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Bhasker, noting that her own views contradict with that of Republic TV, tweeted out that she isn’t okay with Zomato funding them with ad money as she is a loyal customer of the food delivery platform.

Soon after, the matter ballooned up significantly as more people kept joined the narrative of the actress with retweets.

There are many companies such as Bajaj Auto and the Parle who earlier decided to pull their ads out of Republic TV because they viewed it as a medium of spreading toxicity. Thus, it makes sense why a group of people would want to go attacking Zomato for not following in the ‘ethical footsteps’ of those industry giants.

Zomato, in an effort to diffuse the situation, was quick to take note of Swara Bhaskar’s initial tweet and replied back to her saying that they neither endorse nor agree with the channel’s views but only with the content that they produce.

Now, this recent incident is nothing new. As of late, globally, many companies have been pulling their funds away from advertising platforms which do not agree with their own ethics.

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In July, several biggies such as Unilever, Verizon, Upwork, Patagonia and so on joined the ‘Stop The Hate For Profit’ campaign in the United States. The brands collectively opted out of using Facebook as a medium of advertising as they felt the social media giant had wobbly ethics which don’t match theirs.

So the question that arrives here is – has this trend finally seeped into India as well?

Well, it is difficult to say, but the attack on Zomato might just very well be the beginning of it. But, all said and done, besides this recent controversy, one must also take note of how the food tech giant shut down a racially biased customer who refused to take his order from a delivery agent of a different religion.

That particular moment can be looked back to understand what values do the company imbibe.

Also, their recent effort to help distressed restaurants hit severely by the pandemic by making available the takeaway service at zero commission is something that needs to be highlighted as well. The company, in a statement, said that the move will help revive restaurant businesses by helping them expand their avenues of bringing back customers as there exist many people who are still taking precautions and consider takeaways safe.

What is your opinion about this recent debacle? Do you think Indian companies should start matching their values with the platforms they advertise on? Let us know in the comments down below. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.

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