Social media is abuzz right now with an appalling story. At Select City Walk in Saket, New Delhi, a newly-opened ice cream parlour selling Haagen-Dazs ice cream put up a sign: EXLUCIVE PREVIEW FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS!
We caught up with Rajesh Kalra, the Times of India blogger who pretty much single-handedly started the fire. He told me that a friend of his clicked this photograph outside the outlet. And since he couldn't immediately do something about it, so "thanks to Blackberry, I put up something on Twitter and Facebook." He says that surprisingly the whole thing went "viral on the Internet within no time". Kalra predictably sounds angry over the unfortunate incident, he dubs it "ridiculous and below the belt."
The Twitter crowd has already taken the protest banner under the hashtag #HaagenDazsucks. The news is spreading like virtual wildfire.
Arindam Haldar, director, Haagen-Dazs says that,"No one was turned away because of nationality." One would assume that Haagen-Dazs is here to tap the Indian market but the sign post clearly smacks of apartheid. And I wonder what went through the minds of creative heads at TBWA, the ageny that worked out the teaser campaign.
The signboard was taken down soon after. The ice cream giant issued an apology of sorts. Though it hardly reads like an apology. Sample this text from the official media statement issued by the brand: "... The poster in question was part of initial local store communication at a few locations within the same mall announcing the opening of the new Häagen-Dazs shop in the mall. The message was intended to suggest that you can enjoy, for instance, a taste of the French Riviera without traveling to France - by enjoying Häagen-Dazs. Unfortunately the reference to the international passport holder on the poster may have led to a significant miscommunication. This was completely unintended and we apologize for creating the misimpression that may have hurt our sentiments as Indians."
Though when Arindam Haldar, the director called Rajesh Kalra, he apologised to him quite profusely. But think the corporate needs to draft better apologies along with their adverts!