In an attempt to boost sales, app-based taxi service Ola cabs recently launched a campaign. In collaboration with author Chetan Bhagat, Ola announced an offer wherein they provide their customers with an opportunity to ride with him. As unanticipated as it may have been for Ola, it backfired.
While the campaign did serve the purpose of ‘spreading the word’ as the tweets went viral, the offer itself didn’t seem inviting enough for Ola’s customer. Almost immediately, Twitter users started criticising the campaign, vowing to never sit in an Ola again, or at least till September 25, which is when the offer ends.
A big shout-out to all @chetan_bhagat fans. We bring you a chance to meet Chetan and get an exclusive discount on his latest book, The Girl in Room 105. Here’s how: https://t.co/otAqopuJue#RideWithChetan @WestlandBooks pic.twitter.com/TEryW83ICL
— Ola (@Olacabs) September 11, 2018
Oh, Ola! You oblivious little thing…
Hi, could you please elaborate on why you felt this way? Please DM us, with the booking ID so that we can assist you further. https://t.co/6DHSELSc7K
— Ola Support (@ola_supports) September 11, 2018
Others were more direct when it came to trolling the cab service
Thanks for the warning… OLA App deleted until further notice
— Raj Malpekar (@malpekar) September 18, 2018
If I take this ride, it will be one of ‘The 3 Mistakes of my life’.
— Waseem Ahmed (@Waseem_Ahmed11) September 18, 2018
Hahaha Over confidence !!! Before giving offer you must ask if anyone wants to take a ride with you
— Shaila_anchan INC (@anchan_shaila) September 18, 2018
— Dipankar Mukherjee (@hyperdpkr) September 20, 2018
A few even launched threats of ditching Ola for Uber, its biggest competitor in India.
— Vinay Kumar Dokania (@VinayDokania) September 18, 2018
Hey @UberINSupport , don’t even think about something like this. You are our only hope now.
— Roshan Rai (@RoshanKrRai) September 18, 2018
— Ray (@BeingAntiHero) September 21, 2018
Conspiracy theorists would say this was all a clever ploy by Uber to get people to boycott Ola, and expanding its own customer base.
This looks like a conspiracy by @Uber_India to run @Olacabs out of business. I will not get into my own car if Chetan Bhagat is with me. A ride in mumbai local in peak hours is sounds better than riding an Ola with Greatest porn writer from IITs and IIMs.
— AJ (@aj0007777) September 18, 2018
Eventually, something good did come out of it. Twitter users started promoting an online petition to welcome more women drivers. The petition exhorts Ola to train 200 women in Mumbai as cab drivers by the International Women’s Day in 2020.
Why #RideWithChetan when I can #RideWithChetna?@Olacabs, are you listening?
Sign the petition to ask Ola to commit to training 200 women in Mumbai to become cab drivers. #sheOla #OlaRide
(link: https://t.co/eIlsOVldsq) https://t.co/Khwu23SbvF @anushree_vaidya
— Jincy Varghese (@JinCVarghese) September 20, 2018
Instead of #RideWithChetan I want to #RideWithAWomanCabDriver. @Olacabs, are you listening?
Sign the petition to ask Ola to commit to training 200 women in Mumbai to become cab drivers. #sheOla #OlaRidehttps://t.co/lZcSkjp9kn pic.twitter.com/wFLimKMF6a
— Anushree Vaidya (@anushree_vaidya) September 20, 2018
— Nabomita (@nabomita_smiles) September 20, 2018
The petition has already reached 26,763 signatures against a goal of 35,000 at the time of writing this article. All’s well that ends well, right?