E-wallet companies have been making the most of the sudden move by prime minister Narendra Modi of demonetising the existing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes. With sudden cash crunch, they have been engaging with customers through quirky social media posts and ads, appealing them to go digital.
PayTM in particular has stood out with its (controversial) full-page ads featuring Modi and fighting it out with Modi’s staunch critic and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Twitter.
Well, PayTM attempted more but this time, it backfired. What the company probably thought would turn favour on their side, turned into a PR nightmare.
So PayTM posted this advertisement on its social media pages yesterday.
The ad shows a househelp getting annoyed with her employer’s outrage at demonetisation’s after-effects, asking her to “stop the drama” and use PayTM app like her. The employer had been ranting on and on over the ill-thought out government move and how she couldn’t even pay her help in cash.
Twitteratti was incensed. The ad belittles the apathy of the poor in this crisis by branding it ‘drama’, they cried out.
1. As people struggle to pay hospital fees, buy household items, travel and work, @Paytm brings out ads mocking the “drama” of their pain.— Omair Ahmad (@OmairTAhmad) November 13, 2016
I deleted @PayTm app too.People are dying and @vijayshekhar is insulting people’s pain, calling their plight Drama.I can’t support that. https://t.co/N5bVnufKPJ— 500₹ Ban = PR Stunt (@_MiteshPatel) November 13, 2016
What are the alternatives to Paytm? I’m really getting sick of their daily gloating while everyone struggles.Want to not use it.— Aditi Mittal (@awryaditi) November 14, 2016
The outrage was enough for PayTM to do a rethink. Hours later, it posted an “upgraded ad”. In short, the ad minus the controversial “drama” line.
With our strong belief in financial inclusion for every Indian, here is our upgraded ad. pic.twitter.com/DiUbNuERGK— Paytm (@Paytm) November 14, 2016
Were Twitter users silenced? Yes and no. Many of the critics were critics of the demonetisation move too, and the debate turned political. It was now the turn of the ‘other side’ to hit back, who accused PayTM of cowering under pressure.
Well, the debate is far from over. Meanwhile, the lines outside ATMs do not seem to be getting shorter.