Update: Grab has taken down the gory ad, explaining in a press release that their initial intention behind the video was to get people to take road safety seriously and to realise the consequences one might face if they accept lower safety standards.. They apologized for the discomfort anyone might have experienced by watching the video.
One of the most important things about getting on any form of public transportation is obviously safety, and that seems to be the central message of this newly released ad by Grab Indonesia for their motorcycle taxi hailing service GrabBike.
But whether as an intentional marketing strategy or just plain poor decisionmaking, Grab took a very controversial approach with the latest video ad for their #PilihAman (#ChooseSafety) campaign, which everyone seems to agree is disturbingly gory:
In case you need translating help, the video starts with the narrator introducing his daughter, who is the central character in the ad. Her name is Dinda, she’s 20 and she has dreams of becoming a singer.
Then things take a twisted turn. The narrator says that Dinda has to make an important decision soon, and if she makes the wrong one she risks not being able to become a singer or see her friends and family again. Her face and body slowly turn bloody with the help of CGI as she approaches a group of traditional ojek motorcycle taxis, implying a gruesome accident could happen to her if she goes for a ride with one of them.
But of course Dinda ends up unscathed because she decided to hail a GrabBike instead, whose drivers, as the commercial tells us, have undergone safety training, have the appropriate documents, and had their motorcycles routinely serviced. Smiles all around before the ad ends with the narrator saying, “because you’re irreplaceable.”
Public reception for the ad was nothing to smile about for Grab however, as many netizens panned Grab for using fear as a marketing strategy.
At the time of writing, the video has received more thumbs down than likes on Youtube.
The implication that riding traditional ojeks can lead to bloody accidents will likely not sit well with the group, especially since they already have a long history of clashes with online ojeks.
Grab has yet to respond to the mounting criticism of their ad. However, it is hardly the first time the Singapore-based company has committed a marketing faux pas either – their “Love boobs? So does cancer” breast cancer awareness campaign created quite a controversy in the Little Red Dot last year.
But things seem to be rosy for Grab on the business front, as they have just secured a $750 million funding to ward off competition in the region.