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Crossing a Line


Advertising enjoys a lot of latitude. It stretches the truth, exaggerates the good, plays down the bad, skirts the inconvenient facts and even fibs occasionally, yet we accept all this good naturedly and move on. It is part of the business (we say) or the nature of the beast.

For instance, I don't seriously expect Sachin to serve me a hot cup of Boost (yuck!) when I visit him next time, nor do I expect Kumble to have a clue about the type of engine oil his cars use. I know a stupid piece of candy will not alter anyone's mood (Believe me, I tried).

The key of course is to stay in the gray area between truth and deceit, and to never make claims that are specific and false. Like a university could claim to have “incredible facilities” and we'll be fine with it even if they function in a rundown warehouse; but if they claim to have seven swimming pools in the rundown warehouse, or 37 supercomputers when they have none, then we are not fine with it. A line has been crossed.

Which is what this institute called IIPM did. Cross that line, by blithely making false claims that were easily disproved. Pretty dumb thing to do. Some diligent enquiry by some smart folks, and oops, they got caught. Now what? Stay put, and let the stupid thing die. Call the smart folks, and tell them, “well, we are working on it – we bought the swimming pool on Amazon, their shipping policy sucks,” whatever. The smart folks were reasonable people, I am sure they would've listened to you.

But then, if the institute was dumb enough to make specific false claims, then what do you expect them to do when they get caught? Bully their way out of it. That's exactly what they tried, and it is such a mess now:

Read the whole story here or here.

On another note, this might be a test of how much the blogosphere in India can really do. Every Indian blog I know of is talking about this, and this might be the most concerted effort by Indian bloggers to take on an entity.

Can bloggers shape opinions, or is it just a few thousand people deluding ourselves that we have more power than we actually do?

PS: Do you think Boost'll sue me next? Boy that would be fun. I could get Maltova to pay my legal costs. I would be an icon in the blogosphere, and everyone'll stand up when I enter rooms, and talk in hushed whispers behind my back.