Nothing could have prepared Ola users for the distressing warning that appeared on their phones yesterday. The cab aggregator firm opted to send a notice that said “8 missed calls from mom” to numerous of its clients, which was heavily ridiculed on social media. Needless to say, the clickbait was not well received. Whereas a single missed call from one’s mother might cause worry, Ola’s message caused fear until customers realised it was nothing more than a marketing tactic providing a 40% discount on specific services.

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“‘8 missed calls from mom,’ followed by a 40% off promo! This is a terrible clickbait by Ola,” one Twitter user remarked while posting an image of the notice.

Many other users on Twitter agreed that Ola’s marketing ploy did nothing except make them nervous.

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“Why is Ola traumatising me like this?” a user inquired.

“Are you trying to give me a heart attack, Ola?” another person wrote.

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On LinkedIn, Kartik Bhatt, Chief Operating Officer of Sharaf Retail, criticised the marketing gimmick as “disgusting.” “Consider the impact of such an advertisement on those like myself who have recently lost their moms or on others who live far away from their ill mothers. The advertisement is a clickbait ploy, but it fails to strike a chord and leaves a nasty aftertaste,” Bhatt wrote.

A screenshot of Ola’s anxiety-inducing warning was also shared on Reddit, where it received over 24,000 ‘upvotes.’ Many people urged Ola to be more sensitive in future ad campaigns in the comments section.

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“Consider sending this message to someone whose mother has lately died or gone missing. Terrible business,” according to one Reddit user. “This is quite disturbing,” stated another.

Ola’s marketing mistake comes only a day after e-commerce firm Flipkart was slammed for their Women’s Day campaign. On International Women’s Day, Flipkart put out a message advertising kitchen equipment, which was criticised as sexist by many on social media.