A little after the Sri Lankan cricket side showed up on the field with surgical masks, here’s what popped up on Twitter:
Hi, Your players are using a surgical mask which's ineffective against the PM 2.5 particle pollution. If you're serious, we'll send you 11 Dettol Sitishield N95 masks (98% protection against PM2.5) so that there's no reason to stop the game, and delay India's series win 😉
— DETTOL SiTi SHIELD (@SiTiShield) December 3, 2017
And just in case that Tweet from @SiTiShield gets deleted in the future, here is the message:
Hi, Your players are using a surgical mask which’s ineffective against the PM 2.5 particle pollution. If you’re serious, we’ll send you 11 Dettol Sitishield N95 masks (98% protection against PM2.5) so that there’3s no reason to stop the game, and delay India’s series win 😉
Dettol then follows the tweet with another, posted at 01:57am, the next day!
Hey Team Sri Lanka,
As promised, 11 Dettol SiTi Shield N95 masks are on their way to you.
Breathe safe, on and off the field!
Dettol SiTi Shield pic.twitter.com/VTso3SUWz7
— DETTOL SiTi SHIELD (@SiTiShield) December 5, 2017
The tweets were in response to a video uploaded by Sri Lankan cricket. The video is not available in India, so we cannot see what it contains.
I am all for riding popular events for brand gain, but I think the Dettol SiTi Shield tweet crosses the line – and comes across as bad taste. For various reasons.
First, the use of the condescending phrase “if you’re serious.”
Pollution is a major issue in the National Capital Region and all citizens of the area, whether cricketers or otherwise, are consumed by the quality of air, scrambling to buy air purifiers, restricting the outdoor activities of their children, and so on. SiTi Shield has no business to question the intent behind wearing the masks and presume that the mask-wearing was an act and a delaying tactic, as is implied in the latter half of the post.
Second, the Dettol tweet seems to forget that Dettol SiTi Shield is a GLOBAL brand, available in many countries (perhaps in Sri Lanka as well; Dettol surely is available in Sri Lanka). By the way, the tweet also forgets that the correct way to write the brand is SiTi Shield, not Sitishield.
The tweet in question clearly shows partisanship, tilting obviously towards India and away from Sri Lanka. I’m not sure how much harm this will do to Dettol’s Sri Lanka ambitions, but there will be some fall-out.
The Facebook page of Dettol SiTi Shield continues the pro-India tilt, forgetting that the page is visible across the world, even to their consumers in Sri Lanka.
This is not the first time multinational brands are faced with such a problem. Pepsi and Coke do so routinely, as do Adidas and Nike. None of these brands is condescending or offensive to any country and balances the competitiveness of the sport and the opportunity that the environment throws up with great caution. Puns and jokes are great on social media, instantly generating likes and retweets and forwards. That’s in the super, super, short-term. That’s fine, as long as there is no medium term or long term damage.
P.S. Well played Sri Lanka, good match!