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Humans of Bombay controversy impact its brand partnerships and user trust !

Will its brand relationships and user trust be impacted by the Humans of Bombay controversy?

Following its recent social media issues, industry experts discuss possible effects on corporate relationships and user trust for Humans of Bombay.

In the constantly changing world of social media, it’s not unusual for organizations to experience harsh blowback from the public that had previously appreciated them. This is the circumstance that the well-known Indian photoblog Humans of Bombay (HOB) is in.

HOB, a digital platform Karishma Mehta founded in 2014, gained notoriety when it sued People of India for copyright infringement for generating material that was similar to HOB. According to Bar and Bench, this legal action sparked an interesting response from Brandon Stanton, the creator of Humans of New York (HONY). Stanton complained about the substantial marketing of his work by HOB and said it felt ridiculous to sue them for something he had already forgave them for.

HOB’s reaction was to express outrage at what it saw as a “cryptic assault” on its attempts to defend intellectual property rights. This let off a torrent of trolling for the brand in the days and weeks that followed.

HOB’s primary values, which center on “cataloguing the beat of humanity, one story at a time,” are now under investigation because of concerns voiced by Stanton over the company’s monetization strategies. Mehta said that brand integrations account for over 60% of the business’s income during a podcast with Raj Shamani in July 2023.

To preserve authenticity, HOB strives to incorporate brand tales throughout its material. Through partnerships with organizations like HUL, Amazon, Google, and Meta, it generated Rs 6.78 crore in revenue and Rs 3.2 crore in profit in the FY 2021–22.

People on social media have expressed displeasure with the costs associated with commercial partnerships. According to sources, HOB charged businesses more than Rs 28.8 lakhs for integrations involving 4 Instagram posts, 4 reels, and 8 stories.

The response has caused HOB to lose about 2.5k followers per day, whereas People of India has gained between 10k and 15k followers each day, increasing from 1.563 to 1.584 million between September 26 and 28. (Refer to Comscore)

As the criticism grows, concerns surface such as: Will HOB lose brand interest and can it win back its supporters’ trust? Industry veterans provide their opinions for afaqs!.