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Unread 12-15-2009, 09:17 PM
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Default Haagen-Dazs shop in India was only for "international passport holders"

from The Times of India website:
Random Access
Sorry, Indians not allowed
Rajesh Kalra Tuesday December 15, 2009, 02:39 PM

My friend Ramit (name changed on request) called me late Friday night. He sounded quite agitated. “You know, Haagen Dazs has opened its Delhi outlet”. I reacted with a joke. “Good, now you can spend a lot more on an ice cream than you normally would. But why are you agitated?”

“Because I am not allowed to enter”, he said. Now, Ramit is not like one of the politician’s son or into drugs, the sort who are often in news in India’s capital for all the wrong reasons, nor is he the kind who will shoot someone down because she refused to serve him a cone of ice cream.

He did not waste much time and said he has taken a picture and is mailing me the reason. I switched on my mail, and clicked on the attachment. I couldn’t believe what I saw. Was I in India, 62 years after gaining independence, and years after South Africa officially ended apartheid?

The banners outside the outlet said: Exclusive Preview for International Travellers. And under that, in an even finer print, the real bombshell: Access restricted only to holders of international passports.

I immediately called Ramit. “You are an international traveler, and you have a passport, so you can go in”, I said. Ramit’s response was instant: I tried to enter but they said you are not allowed for you don’t have an international passport.

I am normally not given to immediate emotional reactions, but I couldn’t resist this time. I was, to be honest, upset. How can they do this to an Indian, in India? Do a story on TOI or NBT? Do it for print or Online? Call other media friends and colleagues? I simply didn’t know how to react. Print would have a better impact, but should I wait that long?

Then I felt, why not use the power of the social media? Next thing I knew was that I had put up a few pictures on facebook, added a caption and also sent out a tweet with a request it be retweeted. In a few hours, it had turned into a viral and I started getting messages from angry Indians all over. Why just Indians, even friends in international media wrote to say “this is the stupidest thing they have seen in a long time”.

I didn’t stop at that. I ended up calling a few MPs I knew I could speak to bluntly and told them about it, taunting them about it.

I don’t know what finally worked, but it seems word did get around to the outlet’s franchisee and they started claiming there never was any restriction on anybody entering the outlet.

While this may be considered a victory for people power, I am still unable to figure out who in his right senses would have advised the dessert company to do something so stupid. Was it a way to generate controversy for free publicity? Did they think it will work subliminally on Indians mind that now that it has been ‘certified’ by international travelers it would be good for them too?

Whatever it is, it is idiotic. I checked later and found that the franchisee is an Indian company based in Delhi and the man incharge is also an Indian.

I have often maintained that we ourselves are our biggest enemies. Our mentality is that of slaves and we think anything is good only if its approved by foreigners, or the “holders of international passport”.

Perhaps the Indian franchisee had this in mind. And a comment on the picture I put up on the facebook by an Indian who migrated to Australia decades ago sums it up: Most international travellers don't want HD in India when they can get it in their own backyard. Its a commodity not a special thing for them. They would also see this as pure cashing in and thinking they are idiots - 'India taking them for a ride.' Have to remember not every international traveler is American; makes an average salary of squillion dollars; can often be allergic to dairy (yes); is in India to have an 'authentic Indian' experience and by golly even enjoy kulfi, falooda, lassi, dosa! This is all about how India and Indians see themselves. Foreigners have nothing to do with it.
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Unread 12-16-2009, 03:23 PM
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Whoa, bad move.
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Unread 12-17-2009, 05:09 PM
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No Indians allowed; Haagen Dazs says wrong choice of words
Reshmi R Dasgupta, ET Bureau 17 December 2009, 11:19am IST

NEW DELHI: Ice cream major Haagen-Dazs probably did not realise that a sign that was meant to tempt the Capital’s crème de la crème to its premium ‘international-quality’ ice-creams would instead land it in hot water.

A day before the US brand opened its first outlet in a south Delhi mall, it put up signboards around the area for a “preview for international travellers” with the telling rider, ‘Entry restricted only to holders of international passports’.

An Indian who saw the sign and was turned away from the store — only because of lack of space due to weekend rush, according to Haagen-Dazs — took a photograph. He e-mailed it to a Times of India blogger; within minutes it had gone around the globe ( Sorry, Indians not allowed ), inciting a hail of protests that left the company red-faced.

“An error was made in the creative execution,” Anindo Mukherji, MD of General Mills India, which markets the brand here, said, adding more precisely: “It was a wrong choice of words, and we regret the error.”

As there are no such things as ‘national’ passports — they are after all used only for international travel
— it was apparent that ‘international’ was used as another word for ‘foreign’. And since the booklet’s only use, once the holder clears an airport immigration counter, is as a proof of nationality, the clear implication was that only foreigners would be allowed for the ‘preview’. It was not, however, intended to be a case of reworking the old British sign, ‘Dogs and Indians not allowed’.

“No one was turned away because of nationality,” insisted Arindam Haldar, director, Haagen-Dazs. “I was present on all days. If people were refused entry momentarily, it was only due to overcrowding as there was a rush.” Obviously, Haagen-Dazs is here to tap the Indian market, not keep it out, but the words of the teaser campaign left the company vulnerable to the charge of apartheid. And it was compounded by the very poor choice of words by TBWA, the agency that did the teaser campaign.

Upon sustained queries to company officials about the intention of the campaign, it emerged that what Haagen-Dazs really wanted to convey was ‘Now get a taste of abroad right here in India’. But by preferring several long words — that are liable to be misinterpreted — instead of short, clear ones, they ended up generating a lot of heat: something that ice-cream brands, in particular, should steer clear of, if they don’t want their market to melt away, thanks to offended sensibilities. Especially, since it plans to open 30 to 40 outlets in the next few years.
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discrimination, discriminatory, haagen-dazs, india, restricted

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