What’s So Controversial About Zomato Ads Featuring Hrithik, Katrina?

Two Zomato advertisements featuring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, released last month, have cooked up a storm on social media recently. The ads had a similar premise. In one ad, a Zomato delivery partner gets stunned as he meets Hrithik Roshan while delivering an order post ringing the doorbell. Upon requesting a selfie with the delivery partner, the Bollywood actor asks him to wait. However, the former’s phone rings, alerting him of another order to be delivered. The Zomato delivery partner then relinquishes the selfie request to deliver another order. The video eventually ends with the line that “Hrithik Roshan ho ya aap, apne liye har customer hai star” (Whether it is Hrithik or you every customer is a star for us) 

The second ad featuring Katrina Kaif also has the same ending, except in this video, the Bollywood diva asks the Zomato delivery partner to wait for a piece of birthday cake, which he eventually forgoes for the same reason. 

The ads were slammed on the social media platforms for being tone-deaf within 24 hours as the picture of the unfair treatment of gig workers came to light. Several people on Twitter pointed out that the adverts did nothing more than suggesting that Zomato delivery partners do not have a minute to rest in between food delivery orders. 

Some, on the other hand, remarked that the company would rather spend money on ads involving celebs than pay their delivery partners fair wages and bear their petrol costs. 

Responding to the backlash, Zomato released a statement, addressing some of the issues raised by the viewers related to the advertisements. The company clarified that the ads were conceptualised six months ago, which was a “before any social media chatter around gig worker payouts.” 

Further clarifying, Zomato said the idea of these advertisements was to make delivery partners the protagonist of the ads, emphasizing that “we should talk respectfully to any delivery partners.” The ad was made aiming to raise the level of dignity related to a delivery partner’s job and remind that every customer is a star for the company. 

“We believe that our ads are well-intentioned, but were unfortunately misinterpreted by some people,” Zomato wrote. “We understand that you expect more and better from us.” 

Hence “our delivery partner’s Net Promoter Score has increased from -10% to 28%,” Zomato added. “We will also, very soon, publish a blog post explaining why we think our delivery partners should be fairly compensated for the work/time that they put in.” 

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