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4-min read

Indian Companies Tried to Profit Off the Air Strike and People Are Not Happy

After people started reacting (mostly negatively) to Burger Singh's off-putting opportunism and #sorrynotsorry began trending on desi Twitter, the social media handles of other companies, apparently figuring there's no such thing as bad publicity, jumped on to the brandwagon to flog their own wares.

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:February 28, 2019, 9:18 AM IST
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Indian Companies Tried to Profit Off the Air Strike and People Are Not Happy
(Image: Twitter/@BurgerSinghs)
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'War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing'. That's how the song goes anyway, but Indian companies don't seem to agree with Edwin Starr, the original composer of that seminal song. And as far as marketing strategies for restaurants go, this one leaves a greasy taste in the mouth; it's just that oily. And, by that, we mean it's cloying and ingratiating, not fattening.

Burger Singh, an Indian burger brand (what else could it be, with a name like that) decided to combat yet another business day by exploiting news of the air strike conducted by the Indian Air Force early Tuesday morning. The chain pushed out spam SMS texts to all those unfortunate to be on their calling lists with the following legend: "In light of the airstrike on the Jaish terror camps get a 20% discount on http://burgersinghonline.com Use code: FPAKAGAIN #SorryNotSorry".

If that wasn't tacky enough enough, they tweeted out the same, this time tacking on a scene from Pulp Fiction to their grotesque marketing stunt; I'm sure you can guess which one. So, just to be crystal clear (unlike certain obtuse PR teams), this company exploited a still-developing tense military situation to sell some burgers (we know Tuesday is a slow business day in north India, but sheesh), and then compared the Indian Air Force to a psychotic, if erudite, hitman with a disturbing habit of quoting the Bible before murdering people. But hey, they used #SorryNotSorry, so I guess that makes it okay.

Most people were not pleased.

But if you think that this singular lack of taste and sensitivity is unique only to a brand already guilty of selling sub-standard burgers at premium prices (hey, I call 'em as I see 'em, #sorrynotsorry), worry not, dear reader, for there are other equally crass, callous companies.

After people started reacting (mostly negatively) to Burger Singh's off-putting opportunism and #sorrynotsorry began trending on desi Twitter, the social media handles of other companies, apparently figuring there's no such thing as bad publicity, jumped on to the brandwagon to flog their own wares.

CakeZone, an "Online Same Day Fresh Cake Delivery Platform in Bangalore, Hyderabad & Pune", tweeted out a "20% discount" offer with the same hashtag, and somehow managed to make it worse. Not content to exploit merely one tragic terrorist attack (Pulwama, 40 Indian soldiers killed), the celebrants of 'this awesome moment' had to drag Uri (19 soldiers killed) in as well. Literally; the code to avail of their 20% discount is URI2PULWAMA.

Meanwhile, Smaaash, an international sports bar chain, was also game to profit off of some insensitivity by offering a '1+1' deal at its four NCR outlets if you used the code INDIANAIRFORCE, because what are a nation's armed forces for if not to get a free pint of beer, amirite?

It wasn't just food companies though, if that makes it any better. Or worse. A local online gifting store is offering a 12% discount if you use the code SURGICAL2.0. Why 12%? Because it had been 12 days since the attack, 12 jet fighters were used by the IAF, and I guess they're 8% too cheap to give a full 20% off.

Given that Burger Singh had started the whole sordid business, they received the most backlash as well (to be fair, they had a fair share of support as well, because jingoism). However, the company refused to back down and instead decided to double down by issuing a statement to the effect that they had heard the views of people, and well, theyy didn't really care; they were going to continue playing to the ultra-nationalist crowd.

We get it. It's nothing personal, it's only business, as you might say. The thing is, this is personal, and personally, I think this kind of cheap publicity is nauseating. #SorryNotSorry

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