Incredible India tourism ad runs next to Delhi's crematorium article on CNN

India's Ministry of Tourism has been caught in a difficult position when one of its Incredible India ads ended up next to a CNN news article about heartbreaking scenes in New Delhi's crematorium and hospitals. According to the screenshot sent to MARKETING-INTERACTIVE by readers, the tourism ad read "Explore Incredible India".

This comes as the country was recently swept by a second wave of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to more than 200,000. A CNN spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE that this was "an isolated and regrettable ad placement" which was quickly fixed and the campaign has since been paused. While CNN has brand safety tools to ensure that ads do not run alongside or within inappropriate content of articles and videos, MARKETING-INTERACTIVE understands that the error occurred because the ad was programmed to run on a trending news page and the content of the week that had been trending was around India's fight against COVID-19. 

cnn incredible india brand safety

The spokesperson also said the loophole has since been fixed. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to India's Ministry of Tourism for comment, as well as CNN for additional information on the media buying agency.

Most recently, Twitter was asked by the Indian government to remove multiple tweets by netizens and politicians with growing criticism emerging on how the government has handled the rise in cases of COVID-19.  According to reports seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE on Lumen, Twitter revealed that the government made an emergency order to remove certain tweets. According to WSJ, the Indian government has also ordered Facebook and Instagram to also block social posts criticising the handling of the COVID-19 surge. The report added that, while Twitter blocked some of the posts in India, it remained visible to the rest of the world. According to India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology statement to WSJ, this was done to curb the misuse of social media and was an attempt to tackle what it deems coronavirus-related misinformation and panic.

According to statistics on India's MyGov platform, there are currently 3,413,642 active cases in the country and 218,959 deaths. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation stated that 368,147 new cases were reported in India in the last 24 hours, bringing the total cumulative number of cases in India to 19,925,604. WHO said last week that one in every three new COVID-19 cases globally is being reported in India, CNBC reported

Brand safety is no doubt still an issue in the ad industry. A 2019 report by DoubleVerify found that the Asia Pacific region had a 55% increase in brand safety incident rates that year. Overall, brand safety incident rates in Asia Pacific countries ranged from 3.8% to 25% by country, a far more significant variance compared to other regions. On a global level, DoubleVerify also reported a 194% increase in brand safety incident rates on mobile.

India's Ministry of Tourism and CNN are not the only ones to have been embroiled in an unfortunate brand safety issue. In February, BMW Singapore found itself in a tough spot after one of its ads emerged on Singaporean content site Mothership, next to an article detailing a horrific car crash along Tanjong Pagar which took the lives of five individuals during the Lunar New Year weekend. The ad promoted the purchase of  BMW vehicles through a behind-the-scenes point of view and featured mechanics checking the quality of the vehicles, taking stocks, and fixing the cars. The ad was later removed and all media plans were halted immediately. BMW Singapore's spokesperson also told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE previously that it is investigating the matter and that Mothership was not part of its initial media plan. BMW Asia and Performance Motors currently works with Starcom as its media agency.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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