“Buzz, Backlash, Brilliance: The Controversial Marketing Equation”

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Controversy certainly attracts attention, but whether it is a “good” business strategy depends on a variety of factors. While controversy can create buzz and get people talking about a brand or product, it can also come back if not handled properly. It’s a high-risk, high-reward option.

Some positives: Controversy generates more media coverage, social media engagement and brand visibility. It can appeal to curious or curious audiences. Nevertheless, negative arguments can also alienate or annoy potential customers, leading to backlash, rejection, or damage to a brand’s reputation.

Ultimately, the key is to understand the audience, be true to the brand’s values, and consider the possible consequences before using argumentation as a marketing strategy sometimes an uncontroversial but motivating strategy great sensitivity can be just as effective.

This strategy is first coined in Bollywood

Controversy has often been a part of Bollywood films. Sometimes it’s unintentional due to cultural differences, sensitive issues, or creative expression, other times it can be intentional for publicity Controversies arise in Bollywood for various reasons e.g.

1-Topic: Socio-political films can be controversial, especially if they challenge norms or portray important issues.

2-Casting: Casting choices or images can sometimes be controversial, especially when it comes to cultural or personality issues.

3-Discussion Tactics: Some filmmakers deliberately create controversy in order to draw attention to their films, using provocative posters, slogans, comments and other tactics.

While the controversy may initially fuel the hype of a Bollywood film, it is very important to address it. The controversy could affect box office numbers, as it could discourage some audiences from seeing the film or entice others out of curiosity. However, negative controversy can also hurt a film’s reputation and long-term success.

Ultimately, the persuasive side of the debate between filmmakers and marketing groups in Bollywood or any film industry is balancing potential risks and implications for the reception and success of the film.

Which movies are controversial in nature and how it became successful?

Many Bollywood films have been controversial because of their content, social portrayals, or cultural depictions. Some controversial films that are still successful include:

  • Padmaavat (2018): Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the film faced protests and controversy over its alleged portrayal of historical figures. Despite initial hurdles, it was a success at the box office.
  • Udta Punjab (2016): The film dealt with drug abuse in Punjab and faced controversy due to its portrayal of the reality of the state. The controversy surrounding the film’s release due to censorship issues actually helped to increase the attention the film received, making it a success.
  • My Name Is Khan (2010): Produced by Shah Rukh Khan, the film was about racism and discrimination against Muslims in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and its controversial title contributed to discussion and debate, but it still worked well.
  • Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013): Another Sanjay Leela Bhansali film, it faced protests from various groups for its title and content. Despite controversy, it was a commercial success.

The controversy in each of these cases generated publicity and publicity for the film, which led to a degree of commercial success. However, it is important to note that although controversy can boost popularity, factors such as storytelling, style, and audience reception also influence a film’s success Sometimes controversy alone is not enough to make a movie better; It should also affect the audience.

The concept of using controversy as a marketing tool in other Industry

Yes, the idea of ​​using controversy as a marketing tool is not unique to movies or entertainment. It has also been used for various purposes in various industries. However, its effectiveness depends on the quality of the product, the target audience, and the arguments included in the marketing strategy.


  • Clothing and fashion: Companies sometimes use advertisements or controversial designs to stand out. Care must be taken, however, as controversial campaigns can alienate certain segments of the consumer.
  • Technology: Companies can introduce controversial products or stand firm on issues to attract attention. For example, a technology company might take a controversial stance on data privacy, generating discussion but also potentially gaining more loyal patronage
  • Food and drink: Products with unusual or controversial ingredients may attract attention but curiosity must be balanced against potential health or ethical concerns among consumers.
  • Beauty and Cosmetics: Advertisements that challenge beauty standards or promote inclusion can be controversial but can also have strong support from audiences seeking greater representation as well.

Companies faced controversy but managed to succeed

In each case, the risks and rewards of using controversy as a marketing strategy must be carefully weighed. Controversy can create buzz and attention, but if poorly conceived, it can backfire and damage a brand’s reputation. The key is to understand the audience, align with the brand’s values, and consider the long-term impact on the brand’s image.

Many items met with controversy but managed to succeed despite attention or sometimes attention. Here are a few notable examples.

1-Tesla Electric Cars: Tesla has faced controversy over CEO Elon Musk’s social media habits, production challenges and the Autopilot crash but the company’s innovative approach to electric cars and sustainable energy solutions has helped it carry on has developed a strong market.

2-Nike’s Colin Kaepernick Campaign: Nike’s ad featuring famous NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice caused controversy as some people boycotted Nike products and the campaign saved others and sales on people a number, among other things. Loyalty has also increased.

3-Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream: The Company has been very vocal on social and political issues, generating some controversy. However, the business has also attracted customers who appreciate its commitment to social responsibility.

4-Apple products: Apple has faced controversy in its supply chain related to employee practices, privacy concerns, and even design decisions (such as removing the headphone jack) Despite these controversies , Apple products remain popular for their innovation and consumerism.

5-Red Bull Energy Drink: Red Bull has faced criticism and controversy due to its high caffeine content and marketing strategy. Its success, however, was fueled by bold marketing campaigns and strong sports support.

India Products faced controversy but have achieved success:

  • Maggi noodles: Nestle Maggi faced a lot of controversy in India after tests conducted by several state officials allegedly found lead levels above permissible limits. The product was briefly removed from the shelves but returned after intensive testing and redesign, maintaining its popularity among customers.
  • Fair & Lovely (now rebranded as Glow & Lovely): This skin lightening cream constantly faced controversy over the persistence of color and complexion stereotypes In response to criticism , the brand was rebranded, aiming to shift its message towards inclusivity and .
  • Patanjali Ayurvedic products: Founded by yoga guru Baba Ramdev, Patanjali faced its share of controversies over the veracity of its claims, especially the efficacy and composition of its products, but gained significant market share in India for his emphasis on Ayurveda and traditional Indian medicine.
  • Airtel Zero: Airtel, one of India’s leading telecom companies, has been mired in controversy over its Airtel Zero platform, raising concerns over net neutrality. Despite the setback, Airtel remains a dominant player in the Indian telecom industry.

These products have faced a variety of controversies ranging from manufacturing quality and ethical issues to social impact debates. While their reputation has been affected by controversy, they have succeeded through factors such as brand loyalty, market presence and ability to adapt and handle criticism.


Ultimately, while controversy can be a temporary strategic visibility, lasting success lies in a brand’s ability to weather the storm, learn from feedback, and continue to deliver value for, while remaining true to its core identity and values. Controversial marketing is a double-edged sword, capable of generating a great deal of attention and buzz but posing great risks. It’s an approach that requires careful navigation, considering the potential impact on brand reputation and audience perception.

When thought through, controversial marketing can spark conversation, increase visibility, and differentiate a brand from its competitors. However, it requires a deep understanding of the target audience, alignment with the brand’s values, and being prepared to deal with potential follow-up.

The success of controversial marketing is not only based on controversy alone but also on product quality, brand authenticity, and the ability to trust an audience beyond the first time it catches the eye Confidence a developing and genuine relationships with customers is critical to long-term success in litigation.

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