Hyundai finds itself on a sticky path
Chennai, Feb 7 Korean car maker Hyundai Motor India found itself on a sticky road with its statement that many Indians consider as insufficient and skirting over the issue of whether Kashmir is an integral part of India.
To control further damage, Hyundai Global should come out with an appropriate statement, said a brand expert.
On Twitter the handles 'Boycott Hyundai' and 'Boycott Kia' started trending.
It all started on February 5 with a tweet from a handle Hyundai Pakistan Official that read: "Let us remember the sacrifices of our Kashmiri brothers and stand in support as they continue to struggle for freedom."
India's neighbour Pakistan observes February 5 as 'Kashmir Solidarity Day' as a mark of its support to the so-called 'separatist' movement in Kashmir.
Soon social media users started forwarding the controversial post and also tagged it to Hyundai Motor India's Twitter account with their comments and a call for boycotting the car maker's models.
On its part, Hyundai Motor India started blocking those social media accounts and later came out with a statement.
"The unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India is offending our unparalleled commitment and service to this great country. India is second home to the Hyundai brand and we have zero tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view," Hyundai Motor India tweeted.
Continuing further Hyundai Motor India said: "As part of our commitment to India, we will continue our efforts towards the betterment of the country as well as its citizens."
The statement not expressing any regret to the original offending tweet questioning the territorial integrity of India further infuriated Indians on social media.
Shiv Sena party's Rajya Sabha Member Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted: "Hi Hyundai. So many wishy-washy words not needed. All you need to say is - we are unequivocally sorry. Rest is all unnecessary".
"Hyundai Motor India is managing the crisis in India. There is nothing wrong with that. It should be remembered brands are global entities and they should not touch religion, politics and geopolitics," Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults Inc, told IANS.
According to Bijoor, brands are global and need to be extremely careful when they go local.
"Hyundai Pakistan tried to go local and sacrificed the global brand," Bijoor added.
He said it is imperative on the part of Hyundai Global to come out with an appropriate statement that manages the crisis.
"Brands should take a global stance and not a national stance," Bijoor added.
India is a major production and sales market for Hyundai. The company has a capacity to make 7.5 lakh cars at its plant near here.
The company also ships out its cars to various overseas markets.
Group company Kia has its facility in Andhra Pradesh.
(Venkatachari Jagannathan can be reached at [email protected])