Bad product & worse marketing : IBIBO social games

The worst thing that can happen to a bad product is good marketing…but what about the case where the product is bad and the marketing is even worse? Hmmm…then I guess it becomes a case study on brands like IBIBO with title – “how not to market a product”. No, seriously wasn’t balti ad enough that IBIBO has come out with yet another innovative campaign “why play akele”? Not one, not two, rather they have a whole series of creatives for this campaign but what is interesting is to decide which one of these can be crowned as the worst of the lot? This or this or OMG this i.e., the aunty ad on radio, well my vote clearly goes to aunty ad on radio! Every time I listen to this one on 94.3, I can’t resist myself from changing the channel, even if it means listening to kannada songs for a while on mirchi. I detest this ad so very much!

On a serious note, I’m wondering what exactly could be the reason for IBIBO to go ahead with such a crappy campaign? Millions of money spent just like that, effort wasted without any thought on promoting a product which by nature should have been actually promoted through a viral route. A copied concept which due to lack of any innovativeness decided to take the paid marketing path only leading to further disasters enroute. Neither the messaging is right, nor is the execution. To add to that the overall tone of the creatives is so suggestive & absolutely repulsive for the relevant TG of the campaign. I’m wondering is it me or is it everyone who finds these creatives to be totally absurd and disgusting? I think it won’t be a bad idea to do a quick survey on general reaction towards this campaign & send the results to IBIBO marketing team…maybe it can save us from further tortures of “why play akele” kinda campaigns in future.

Public service initiative🙂 : May I please request all of you to take out few seconds and just give your opinion below? It would be interesting to observe the results, though I don’t have any doubts on the outcome.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in my post are personal & I request readers to express their own judgements & take their own call.

[polldaddy poll=2740294]

Update on 8th Mar’ 2010: This poll is closed now for voting as per the expiry timeline of the poll. I will be publishing the result of it in my next post, for now you can just see the % of results by clicking “view results”


  1. donateyourpc

    Interesting to see the results! Love It and Hate It are tied at 43% each.
    As a matter of fact till now I had seen only the ‘toilet’ ad (!!!!) of the series and had found it ok (or ignorable!) but aunty and ‘melons’ are actually VERYY suggestive and shocking. So my opinion went to hate it.

  2. Abhishek

    Previous comment got sent from my DYPC account. Actually it was me 🙂

  3. Abinash

    Melon ad is nice, Latest Ad On Amitabh is also Good…
    Product is also Good..I have been using from more than 1 year..
    Play Downloadable games..U will be crazy about all the Games…
    Even on 2am night I find 1000 players playing..

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  5. Manoj Mathur

    ibibo is rocking indian internet world nowdays… and its good that some indian website is doing this… if face book has spent millions of rupies on PR no one ever bothered and if a india based company is doing some great shaking…the reaction from some of you are very obivious…

    in any case i tried ibibo after this ad and really liked the parking was of ibibo…

  6. Aseem Dokania

    you have made some statements in your blog, in bold, about the outcome of ibibo ad campaign. Can you share what is the basis of those statements? I am sure your readers would also like to know on what basis you are saying that it is “effort wasted”?

    ibibo is one of the few Indian Internet companies that is on a strong growth path with a steadily increasing loyal user base. I urge everyone to spend some time on the product before accepting judgements of other.

    Thanks, Aseem Dokania, Director Products, ibibo,

  7. Manoj

    I agree totally…I have only watched that guy on shit pot ad & it is actually a totally shitty one!

  8. Kanupriya

    Dear Mr. Aseem Dokania,
    Thanks for dropping by my blog. This is my personal blog & opinions expressed here are solely mine. Like many other bloggers, I do review the ads or products as per my own judgement. Be assured that if the mass judgement here says that they “love the ad”, I will refurbish the results as it is. I do think that the aunty ad & melon ad are suggestive ones and personally I don’t find any connect between the ad and the brand…but then again I repeat that this is my own personal thinking. I maybe right or wrong and such opinions are totally subjective ones. Once again thanks for your comment & it was great to see you here.

    P.S: In my poll, I’ve also enabled the setting of “block vote based on cookie & IP settings” so plz be assured that all the votes which will come here will be unique ones.

  9. Abhishek

    (I hope Mr. Dokania has checked the ‘Notify me of follow-up comments via email.’ box so that he can read this.)

    iBibo may be one of the few growing internet companies but does that mean you get a license to air suggestive ads? I understand your brief to agency was to create a ‘clutter breaking’ ad but I really don’t feel this is the ideal way to break clutter! Despite a higher than normal ‘raunchy quotient’ the ads will be forgotten as soon as they are of the air.

  10. Ankur

    Wow…what about that internet ad with that cute chick in a red dress telling you that someone stole her tomatoes!

    Well…hope there products are not farmville rip offs or anything(seem to be already!)
    Maybe the ads target ‘will you do fraandship with me?’ kinda users.

  11. Abhishek

    BTW, check out the growth of iBiBo which is on ‘strong growth path’ with a ‘loyal user base’ here : 🙂

  12. Ankur Srivastava

    The ads are indeed suggestive … its really very disheartening to know that marketing for ibibo is being done in this way .. totally unnecessary.

  13. Neil

    You should realize Ibibo have deep pockets and they can afford to splurge in sensible or nonsense and in your term worse marketing techniques. I never realized their strategy has changed from Talent platform to social gaming, guess all inspired by Farmville Success. May be games can turn around the fortune of the company.
    Ibibo have always been claiming about fastest Indian internet company, i have serious doubts on their statement. Their earlier product couldnt make a mark and is total dud.


  14. Pawan


    I totally agree with your point….but I saw a blog posted by Mr. Aseem so I thought I should check it out again.

    I saw both the ads again…bucket one as well as Shit one.. I really tried to find out some connection between the product as well as ads, but unfortunately I failed to do so.

    It is my personal opinion that Balti ad is totally Shit.

  15. anuj mukherjee

    there are bad ads,very bad ads and terrible ads…I guess all three are applicable for the current ibibo campaign. I won’t like to be a moralist and talk of ads being suggestive and therefore being bad. for me evaluating an ad is about whether it is creating a discontinuity in the consumers’ mind, product connect and relevance to the target consumers’ natural environment/social context. the ad also should also contribute to word of mouth.the current ibibo fails on all counts…one cannot be clutter breaking just by being suggestive…it’ll achieve nothing. take the axe example…so many others have tried to hijack or ape the route…none have succeeded. it is about the creative execution and not just about the route.

  16. Anuj Rathi

    @Kanupriya: You should really switch off anonymous commenting on your blog. This happens all the time, when some crappy product comes out and someone points out that it’s crappy; people from that company (or associates) start commenting that the product is really awesome. Those are not real users.
    Take for example this:

    Melon ad is nice, Latest Ad On Amitabh is also Good…
    Product is also Good..I have been using from more than 1 year..
    Play Downloadable games..U will be crazy about all the Games…
    Even on 2am night I find 1000 players playing..

    Now, I’ve never seen ibibo fanboyism anywhere on the internet as this one 🙂 Ask that person to reveal his blog or even his facebook profile.
    Also, Kanupriya, you should check out the results of your poll after sometime as well, blocking vote based on cookie and IP settings can only be helpful to a little extent, it’s not fool proof.

    Btw, ibibo has a history of creating ads with no heads or tails. As if the (in)famous balti ads were not enough, that we are now watching the shit pot ads. And thanks for the link to the radio ad as well, I couldn’t believe that some companies could stoop so low with their suggestive ads.

    Also, being a gamer (social and otherwise), I don’t like ibibo games. There just isn’t enough traction, they’re not anywhere as slick as zynga games. I think ibibo is trying to get into too many domains which it just isn’t proficient in. Social gaming is not everyone’s forté. And just like ibibo got a dead duck in local search with, their social games (along with the stupid ads) are going to bomb.

  17. Nits

    I agree with the analysis. The ads are very suggestive and hardly correlate to the brand. I wonder if they will soon have ‘Savita Bhabhi’ as their brand ambassador, inviting people to come and harvest farm with her or find out who stole her tomatoes. 😉

    Franky, it hasn’t yet made me to give up FV and not become called ‘Balti’ and join Ibibo. I have been watching them for last 3 years and still haven’t joined ibibo…even though I might have signed up to try 40 odd SM & gaming products.

    And btw, Ibibo’s games lack any innovation. Parking wars is not a new game. if I remember correctly, I had heard Alok Kejariwal of Games2Win fame last year, in one of the conferences and he mentioned that parking games made by them were a craze in South Asia last year. So, this game is nothing new, just a copy+ repackaging, like the Ibibo farms…which even at the thought of being a FV copy doesn’t moviate me to signup. If they had this gr8 idea and had launched it even before FV then I would have considered it a gr8 product.

    I would say Ibibo teams should put their focus on building original & innovative games , make ads which can attract people to come because of game features and innovation and trust me, users will come on their own.

  18. Nits

    Btw, since Mr. Dokania is defending his team’s creativity here, may be he can enlighten us on following questions: –

    1)How are the suggestive Ibibo ads are trying to correlate to social gaming and attract loyal user base?

    2)Was the suggestive tone in ads so much necessary to pull in the crowd if the games are that creative and unique, I guess the features should have been the focus of the ads in that case.

    3)Any stats to share on your loyal userbase? I’m sure you may point us to Comcast or Alexa, but that won’t give us the number of loyal users coming and playing Ibibo games at 2 Am in the night, as Abinash claims(one of your loyal user :-)).

  19. karan dutta

    Ads are yokay! Talk of the town! cute! Just played parking wars

    @nits – this is not the same parking type game!

    @kanupriya – markting guru! All talk no play makes you a dull person. Lost your what? Sorry but tempted to write! Vroooooooom

  20. Kanupriya

    @ Karan: Thanks for dropping by my blog. You know if I wanted, I would not have published your comment on this blog but still went ahead & approved it as I think my readers must read your interesting tone & language of commenting :-).
    Sorry but tempted to write that I also read lots of other opinions on this ad / product on Twitter, FB etc and wow I’m not alone who thinks like this about the ad :-). And as I replied in one of my earlier comments, if the result says that majority people “love this ad”, I will furnish the report as it is…I do play a lot but believe in fair play 🙂
    BTW I ain’t any marketing guru (though wish I become one someday :-)), just an avid marketer who like many others has opinions on ads / products. People are free to agree / disagree with me.

  21. Srikanth

    Kanupriya, do you need some help in pointing out specific comments to people like @Karan or @Abinash or others? Some links for them 😀 : , or and many others … also see the profile of these people, you’ll get to know some more about them. Wondering from where I got these, simple – from the timeline of Mr. Dokania where he is replying to all these people that the ad is great & the company is doing wonderful, LOL.
    Good you published this comment, it definitely gives an insight on the person above :). BTW have you seen JK Cements ad,another crap. You must write about that too, even I’m gonna do the same.

  22. Suraj

    I dnt think ibibo ads were ever creative (dnt b balti, why play akele, melons…) or influenced enough, yeah they were more of non sense….and I believe they wanted it to b tht way so tht the viewer go to ibibo to find some sense…

    The line ‘tumne use apne melons se impress kiya….” is ridiculous man and the girl’s facial expression …. ..god.. 🙂
    The guy sitting on potty looks hilarious making that sound wrrrrrrrrrrooooooo, he changes gears also yar…. Imagine, if the guy wud have said that ‘maine use apne potty.. ..sry melon.. se impress kiya….’:)

    I am no marketing guru or anything, just my thoughts as a TV and Ad viewer..

  23. ibibofan

    Why are you guys wasting time flaming each other when you could be playing a game on ibibo right now?
    why flame akele?

  24. Aseem Dokania

    @kanupriya. Thanks for responding to my comment and clarifying your stand.
    All the best.

    Aseem (

  25. Vishal

    You guys should check this out…. &

    Two of the dozens of fake profiles being created outside of ibibo for attracting below the belly thinking men on twitter! this is SH!T

    Lets do something against ibibo for bringing shame to indian internet and using cheap publicity. What I hear is the ASCI has already been written to… I doubt anything would happen though.

  26. ashish

    @vishal: you must know those guys are not fake. they are real, probably they are hired by ibibo on contract to create these kinda profiles 🙂 and probably “Mr. aseem dokania” is leading the bunch 🙂

  27. Unhappy

    Apparently, part of Ibibo’s questionable marketing practices includes buying email lists and then signing people up as users of their site without their permission.

    About a month ago I started getting emails from Ibibo (a site I had never heard of since I’m in the US), saying “Thank you for joining!” And then every few days telling me to “promote” myself, or play certain games. I finally got irritated enough to sign onto the site to ask them to delete this account that I never signed up for, but they have ignored my requests. I guess they are creating these fake profiles against people’s permission in order to make it appear that they have more users than they actually do. I consider that fraud to their advertisers, and identity theft to people like me.

    Do you have any comment about this, Mr. Dokania? Am I part of Ibibo’s “strong growth path with a steadily increasing loyal user base?”

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