The marketing department of any company could only dream of this – trending on social media channels without a paid campaign! Snapchat dominated the public imagination in India, albeit, for reasons that would do more harm to the interests of the company. It was trending all over India, as hastags #boycottSnapchat and #uninstalSnapchat became ubiquitous.
A Prelude for the Uninitiated
Anthony Pompliano, an ex-Snapchat employee, who is suing the company, allegedly told news website Variety that Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel once remarked in September 2015 that,
“The app is only for rich people. I don’t want to expand into poor countries like India and Spain.”
As soon as this alleged comment was picked up by news websites, it created an unprecedented uproar among India’s vociferous social media user base. As a backlash, users started uninstalling the app en masse, giving it one star as a parting gift. Some users allegedly downloaded the app, only to uninstall and downgrade it.
Snapchat or Snapdeal: A Case of Mistaken Identity
While the backlash against Snapchat was in its full flurry, some social media users noticed that the angry mob was uninstalling Snapdeal instead of Snapchat. Snapdeal is an Indian e-commerce website, and it is already going through troubled times, owing to its consistent poor performance.
As the word spread that ‘some foreign CEO’ of a company known as “Snap…” spread, the outrage among Indians was at its crescendo. A certain section of enraged users took to Google Play Store to vent their anger, and instead of ‘targeting’ Snapchat, they inadvertently downgraded and uninstalled Snapdeal.
There’s History to Backlash Against Snapdeal
Except for the ‘Snap’ bit, two other factors contributed to Snapdeal’s predicament. First, Snapchat, unlike Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is not as popular in India, where a vast majority of users have Android phones. A large section of netizens wouldn’t have possibly heard of Evan Spiegel before this development. So, as the news about the alleged comments first became viral, one section thought that Evan Spiegel was the CEO of Snapdeal.
A look back to the developments of November 2015 can also explain why Snapdeal became collateral damage in yesterday’s turn of events. In November 2015, social media users had uninstalled and downgraded Snapdeal app in a similar fashion, after its brand ambassador Aamir Khan had made comments on ‘rising intolerance’ in India. Aamir Khan, a well-known Hindi film actor, later lost the contract with Snapdeal. It is quite possible that a section of users, who had targeted Snapdeal little over a year back, had a go at the floundering company in a fit of anger.
P.S.: A spokesperson for Snapchat has denied reports that Evan Spiegel made the alleged comments for India. The spokesperson said that “Snapchat is for everyone.”