There is always a new topic causing outrage on social media, and this week it was an advertisement campaign by the transportation network company, Careem. It seems Careem committed the sin of depicting, on a billboard ad, a bride waiting to be rescued. The slogan on the billboard read: “apni shadi se bhagna hai to Careem Bike karwao”, implying that Careem will be there for you in the worst of situations, even when you need an escape from your own wedding.

The advertisement naturally drew the ire of many of our online right-wing social media users, from Ansar Abbas, a journalist at The News who called the campaign “shameful”, to another journalist, Anam Hameed, who opined that the advertisement didn’t accurately represent our cultural values. Even actress Veena Malik, who has recently taken a conservative shift, added her two cents in condemning the ad.

If the slogan “there is no such thing as bad publicity” is true, then the Careem ad was successful. Indeed, the ad was so talked about that “boycott Careem” and “Careem ad” became some of the top trending hash-tags on Twitter, with some calling for the state to take action against the marketing campaign. A picture of the Minister of State was floated around, with the caption that the Interior Minister had called upon the CEO of Careem to clarify the marketing stunt. That theory was later shut down as false news, as the picture was of months ago.

It is a story of marketing campaigns gone wrong- or perhaps right, depending on your interpretation- but it does lead us to reflect on marketing, outrage culture and how easily social conventions can be broken in the age of social media. We must question why the portrait of a woman practicing her free will- opting out of a marriage- offends so many and is deemed against cultural norms. Indeed, the outrage over this reminds of the many days of social indignation that was expressed at posters of the Aurat March, many of whom also encouraged women to exercise their choices. While we leave it up to interpretation whether the Careem ad was offensive or not, it is fair to say that no matter the extent of outrage on the internet, social norms are changing, and corporations taking note of it in their marketing campaigns is a huge indicator of it.