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The stellar advertisements, their controversies and the effectiveness- A critical investigation – Dr. Shampa Nandi

24 Sept, 2022.


On 24th March, while Mary was in a regular office meeting in Bangalore, one of her junior colleagues attracted her attention to an obituary notice of a refrigerator posted in a popular English newspaper and showed her the ad “In loving memory of Sri Fridgesh Coolkarni (1854 – 2022)” [1]. Mary was a bit surprised but understood that it might be an unconventional advertisement or a guerrilla ad from a company. On the same day, she even observed many hoardings on the same obituary notice on the road and near malls while returning from the office [2].   Multiple posts on the advertisement on Twitter and Instagram confirmed that the campaign created intrigue among many. A comment on social media by a stranger was like “Is that some kind of a marketing stunt or was someone actually very attached to their refrigerator?” [3]. There was confusion on whether this was an advertisement on the refrigerator or any other item. Another tweet confirmed the similar confusion, “Influencers to *create* some buzz? Print ad + influencer push + physical billboards + road-to-road activation… that’s good money for a fridge launch (I presume). Must be a big enough brand”?[3].  It seems people became curious and so was Mary. Her wait was not prolonged as the concluding part of the advertisement campaign in newspapers, on Television, on YouTube and on outdoor hoardings. The message was “Ab fridge ka kya kaam hai’’ where Dunzo Daily offered fresh vegetables and groceries within 19 minutes. She noticed numerous posts, discussions and remarks on social media and became curious and decided to follow it closely.

A few months later, on 29th May 2022 during IPL final match, Dunzo’s other advertisement on TV with the message “Inconvenience is regretted” [4] on a blank TV screen along with a QR code displayed asking people to scan it, was another piece of creativity and went viral on the social media. Many advertisers including some common people started criticising this ad stating that it was copied from the Coinbase Crypto ad campaigned in Super Bowl 2022.

Mary was aware of the quick commerce company ‘Dunzo’ but never used the service from the company. Post these advertisements, she started following Dunzo. She got to know that Dunzo delivers anything at home with the tap of a button. The company worked on the tagline why step out when Dunzo delivers everything starting from food, grocery, medicine, pet supplies, and daily essentials from the local Kirana store very quickly in lesser than 30 minutes. Mary realized that Dunzo became very popular with the innovative quick delivery hyperlocal business model. During the pandemic because of the restricted movements of people the quick service market became very competitive with Blinkit, Zepto, Swiggy-Instamart and Zomato etc. Many customers of giant e-commerce companies switched to quick commerce services due to the long waiting period caused by the supply chain disruptions during the pandemic period.

Mary was curious to know whether these advertisements are only controversial or they are equally effective in other ways.

The company behind the advertisements- Dunzo, the Quick Commerce Company

Dunzo started its journey in 2014 as a hyperlocal quick commerce company to deliver groceries, vegetables, meat, pet supplies, daily essentials, food and medicines. Dunzo offered a pick-up and delivery service in the same city with a minimum amount of charges. For example, in case someone needed a document at the office that he had left at home, Dunzo would do that job. Kabeer Biswas, a Mumbai University Engineering graduate founded Dunzo along with co-founders Ankur Agarwal, Dalvir Suri and Mukund Jha on July 8, 2014[6]. The parent company of Dunzo is Dunzo Digital Private Ltd and the total valuation of the company is $775 mn (as of January 2022)[6]. Dunzo relating to the word ‘Done’ had the dream of Kabeer Biswas to make the lives of people hassle-free and easy.  During his stay in Gurugram, he realized that people did not like to do many jobs on their to-do list of tasks and spent a lot of time at weekends completing those tasks. After he got transferred to Bengaluru in 2014, he started offering this type of service through a WhatsApp group to his known circle of friends and relatives. He used to deliver all orders by himself on his bike and the errand service became very popular as he ensured that the task was done in time. Within 4 months he received orders from 10,000 customers and continued this job for almost a year.  In 2016, once the Dunzo app was launched and the cofounders joined, the name Dunzo became very popular mostly through word-of-mouth communication. Initially, he got rejected by nearly 100 investors but in 2016, the first investment of $1.18mn came from Aspada Investment followed by $12.3 mn from Google. It was Google’s first investment in India. Dunzo has so far received a total investment of $368.4 mn in 16 rounds of investment Currently, Dunzo is operating in 8 cities in India and its revenue has grown 66.5% from the previous year to $6.22mn (Rs 45.8 crore) in FY21.

Segmenting, targeting and positioning strategy of Dunzo and the advertisements

To analyze Dunzo’s above advertisements, let us first see who are the target customers of Dunzo. Dunzo targeted the Urban upper-middle-class customers who are tech-savvy and are ready to pay extra to a service provider who would do the routine not preferred tasks. Mostly working-class people of both genders who are struggling to manage time are targeted by Dunzo at the beginning. In the future expansion, Dunzo wants to include the Urban middle-class people, a segment of nearly 80% of the urban population.  According to Kabeer, this is one of the most promising biggest consumer retail segments and the initial years of his business were spent creating the category ‘Quick- Commerce’. Dunzo has distinguished itself from its competitors not in delivery time (which is 15-20 minute band for Dunzo) but in the selection, quality and price of the items [8] and Dunzo relies on creating a “Superior Customer experience.”  

Hierarchy of effect Model and the effectiveness of the advertisements

Source:  Hierarchy of Effects Theory (Robert J Lavidge and Gary A Steiner, 1961)

Lavidge and Steiner suggested that the six steps of advertisement/marketing communication can be split into three stages of consumer behaviour-

  • Cognitive- Consumer became aware of the product/service and gained knowledge
  • Affective- Consumer prefers the product/service
  • Conative-Consumer buys/uses the product/service.

If the advertisements are analysed very closely, it could be observed that they are very creative with a tint of humour and the delivery modes are new and unusual. Initial obituary notice and then the actual message was able to generate huge inquisitiveness among viewers. There was puffery and exaggeration like ‘ab fridge ka kya kaam hai’ which made the message noticeable and unforgettable.  Though the trustworthiness of the ad is limited, it directly or indirectly helps to generate brand awareness and brand recall.  A large number of posts on the curiosity and confusion on whether the advertisement is on a Refrigerator or something else proved that the cognitive component to measure the effectiveness of the advertisement was achieved.

The second advertisement on scanning the QR code was very contemporary. The ad was campaigned at a right time during the IPL final and drew huge responses. QR code scanning is well known among pan-Indian viewers because of the popularity of UPI transactions. The reach of the ad was amplified as it went viral due to the heavy critics and numerous posts on Twitter.  Both ads have proven that Dunzo was able to communicate to its target customer very well [7][9].

Media planning for the delivery of the ads was done very strategically. Messages are very contemporary and delivered through fun memes, social videos and in popular Television shows ‘Shark Tank’ or during IPL [10]. Being a hyperlocal convenience provider, Dunzo tries to connect with the local audiences as well as reach to pan-India level. Both above-the-line and below-the-line promotional strategies are adapted by the company. QR code scan advertisement was criticised heavily but it was able to generate a huge customer database through the scanning. The effectiveness of the ads in terms of the second component “Liking and Preference” of the Hierarchy of Effect Model are well justified.  The third component for measuring the effectiveness of any ad is called “Conviction and purchase’’ and it is difficult to measure it without the primary data. The QR code ad was a one-to-one interaction between the company and customer and the traffic spiked up to 10 times during the campaign. According to Dunzo, the weekly order grew to 2 million per week. Dunzo was able to generate a huge customer database through this advertisement. This proves that Dunzo’s advertisements were successful in terms of the third component.

The controversies around the advertisements

Whether Fridjesh Kulkarni ad or the QR code scanner ad both created a buzz on social media and drew the attention of both Marketing Gurus and common people. People criticised that the QR code ad was copied from the Coinbase Crypto ad campaigned in Super Bowl 2022[26]. Mr Sanjay Tripathi, co-founder of Agilio Lab said it was a copied one but very innovative and apt for Indian customers and it was very successful in generating customer data[11]. Llyod Mathias, Business Strategist and investor said the creative idea was brilliant and very disruptive. As Coinbase Crypto and Dunzo serve completely different markets, though the ad was copied there was not much overlapping and the timing of the Dunzo ad was brilliant. The reach and impact of the ad were huge and the execution served the purpose[11].


Dunzo’s advertisements are very creative, and contemporary and often hinge on moment marketing. According to Sai Ganesh, head of the brand, Dunzo, this quick delivery company can create the correct brand image and brand personality through all its advertising campaigns and the green colour mascot and logos are very well assimilated with the brand persona. The best answer to deal with all the controversies came from Kabeer, who twitted ‘From the obituary posters to Fridgesh Coolkarni to playing QR code on Sunday evening on all possible media across the country – we have always tried to reimagine the dimensions in which media can be used. We always question ourselves- if we are being tone-deaf and hope to come out learning how to improve next time” [5][9][10].


  1. Available at: (accessed 21 June 2022).
  2. Available at: (accessed 21 June 2022).
  3. Available at:
  4. Available at: (accessed 21 June 2022).
  5. Available at: (accessed 21 June 2022).
  6.  (accessed 28 June 2022).
  7. (accessed 26th July 2022).
  9.,out%20serious%20money%20for%20the (Accessed in 14th August 2022)
  10. (Accessed in 14th August 2022)
  11. in 14th August 2022)

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