‘Disgraceful’: MakeMyTrip draws reproof and outrage for ad on Pakistani fans

Online travel company MakeMyTrip has been called out by netizens for its "disgraceful" advertisement ahead of the Pakistan vs India ODI World Cup match on Saturday in Ahmedabad.

A screenshot of the controversial MMT ad. Photo courtesy: X

The company offered discounts to Pakistani fans on travel to India based on the "margin of Pakistan’s defeat" in the highly anticipated face-off.

The company drew flak with many describing the ad as ‘insensitive’ and ‘tone deaf’ and making light of a serious issue.

As the ad was called out for being zero on humour and its insulting tone, hotel aggregator Homestays & Villas, a MakeMyTrip partner, in a social media post distanced itself from the advertisement and held MakeMyTrip solely responsible for this "error".

“We have no affiliation with this absolutely disgraceful advertisement published by makemytrip," it said in a statement.  

Homestays & Villas further stated that they do not serve Pakistan citizens, "Our country comes first before any business and we do not serveing [sic.] our property to Pakistan citizens."

In an apparent attempt to cash in on the Indian sentiments that usually run high during a contest with arch-rivals Pakistan, MakeMyTrip took out a full-page newspaper ad offering special discount codes to Pakistani fans in India – applicable only if their team loses.

The ad used the Sanskrit verse ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ or “Guest is equivalent to God” –eliciting backlash from a section of the internet.

“An open invitation to Pakistani fans,” the MakeMyTrip ad began. “Dear neighbours, let’s take a moment and forget our rivalries. After all, it’s not every day that you visit us. Hope you won’t mind us playing a good host. It’s going to be a big day today


“So, staying true to the Indian tradition of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ we want to extend some heartfelt offers to you,” the ad continued before revealing its offer to fans:

“If Pakistan loses by:

10 wickets or 200 runs, get 50% off. Use code: BoysPlayedWell.

6 wickets or 100 runs, get 30% off. Use code: EkShaheenHaar.

3 wickets or 50 runs, get 10% off. Use code: NoMaukaMauka,” MakeMyTrip promised Pakistani fans.

While there were Indian fans who gave amused reactions to the ad, a large section of netizens slammed it for being distasteful.

"To be sure, being crass and lacking grace is not a crime at all. You have every right to be as crass, coarse, and boorish as your heart wishes. But why make it an emulatable public stand, just to grab eyeballs, in the name of marketing? " asked a communication strategy consultant on a post on his X handle. 

The Pakistan team is touring India for the first time in 2016 and played their biggest match of the World Cup against the home team at the Narendra Modi Stadium.

India defeated Pakistan by seven wickets in the mega-contest. The chase of 192 runs seemed a cakewalk for India as skipper Rohit Sharma scored 86 off 63 balls with the help of six fours and six sixes.