All of yesterday, the internet had been wondering why food delivery company Swiggy had — out of the blue — taken a low-blow at PM Modi’s supporters on Twitter. The internet now appears to have a hint why.
Dentsu Webchutney, the agency that handles Swiggy’s social media, is a part of Dentsu India, which had been given a Rs. 500 contract to “bolster” Rahul Gandhi’s image in 2014. “In the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections due in April-May, Dentsu India, the Japanese advertising and public relations company, is preparing a massive campaign around the concept of “empowering the common man”, which will focus on portraying Gandhi as a young, vibrant leader who will deliver on the aspirations of the common Indian,” a Hindustan Times report from 2014 had said.
“Gandhi, who took the final decision to go ahead with Dentsu India (and JWT) to handle the Congress party’s Rs. 500-crore advertising contract for the elections, is taking a personal interest in the campaign’s design,” the report had added.
Dentsu Webchutney was acquired by Dentsu India in 2013, a year before its deal with Rahul Gandhi.
This would perhaps explain Swiggy’s strange tweet from yesterday. Last night, Swiggy had chosen to respond to a Congress-supporting Twitter handle, which had tweeted a joke making fun of “bhakts”, which is something Congress supporters pejoratively call supporters of PM Modi. “Had an argument with my Bhakt friend over farmers protest. Had said that we are not dependent on farmers for food. We can always order food from Swiggy. He won,” the account had tweeted. Even though Swiggy wasn’t tagged in the tweet, Swiggy’s official account sent out this response: “Sorry, we can refund education.”
The response had delighted Congress supporters, but BJP supporters hadn’t been quite as impressed. All of yesterday, several thousand tweets had been sent out, criticizing Swiggy for taking a political stand, and many impassioned users had said that they’d never use Swiggy’s services again.
Swiggy’s tweet had left many scratching their heads, but it makes perfect sense given how the agency that handles its account was on the payroll of the Congress party. But companies would do weigh the costs and benefits of overtly taking political stands on social media — these are polarized times, and companies might well find that while taking political stands earns them plaudits from some quarters, they can also end up antagonizing a much larger portion of their userbase.