Myntra and Snapdeal, two of the country’s most popular online marketplaces, fell foul of members of the Christian community on Friday who felt slighted by the “insensitive” promotional material put out by the companies.
In a week filled with public holidays including Holi, Good Friday and Easter, e-commerce sites have tried to capitalise on the four-day weekend by luring shoppers with heavy discounts. As part of this campaign, both Snapdeal and Myntra have been sending out promotional alerts on email and their app through the week. On Friday, Snapdeal sent out an email to customers promoting offers with a subject line that read, "It’s a really really good Friday|Flat 40% Off". Myntra's app alert on Friday proclaimed: "We know it's a really Good Friday when you get 50%-80% off."
The content of the promotions did not go down well with members of the Christian community, as despite its name, Good Friday is not a day of celebration. Instead, it is the day on which Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. It is a day of fasting and penance for the community. It is in this context that some Christians felt that the advertisements put out by Snapdeal and Myntra were in bad taste.
"I was appalled when I got the app notification from Myntra," said Fernando Monte Da Silva, a journalist from Panjim in Goa. "I was shocked at the ignorance and insensitivity on display."
Silva said the prefix "Good" often misleads people into thinking it is a day for celebration. There are several theories surrounding the etymology of Good Friday, one of them being that the day is "good" because Christ showed his love for mankind by dying for their sins.
However, Silva said this confusion could not be used an excuse in the case."I had a professor who wished me for Good Friday, but that is an honest mistake," said Silva. "In a company as big as Myntra, I would assume that there would be levels of scrutiny before such content is put out. Ignorance is one thing, but when you're using it as a promo to generate revenue, that's just taking it a tad too far."
Silva shared a screenshot of the alert on his Facebook page and triggered a debate over whether sheer ignorance was at play or whether the content writers had pushed the boundaries of creativity.
The email and notification were also criticised by others on social media.
A spokesperson for Myntra said they had modified the promotion immediately after being notified that it could be construed as insensitive. A fresh notification was sent out that read "Long Weekend Sale".
For its part, Snapdeal said it regretted the tag line used in its email. "It is an error on our part ," said a spokesperson for the company. "We extend our sincere apologies to all whose feelings we may have hurt inadvertently. We will work to ensure that something like this never happens again."
Meanwhile, the confusion over Good Friday was not limited to the e-commerce sites alone: Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shahnawaz Hussain committed a similar faux pas. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi was properly briefed on the significance on the day, his party colleague seemed to be in the dark and was promptly corrected by his followers.