The time when the residents of UAE thought their phone was hacked!
Filed on June 6, 2021
A lot happens on our phones every minute of the day. They are constantly buzzing with notifications from social media, WhatsApp groups, utility apps and so on. This past week, UAE residents received an extremely puzzling message on their phone.
Just after Eid al fitr, a number of UAE residents started getting notifications on their mobiles that a friendly hacker going by the name, "BLACK_SWAN" is on a mission to help them "save money".
While most people were skeptical, some got curious and some panicked thinking their phone was hacked. The notification was very cryptic and just said that BLACK_SWAN is going to help them save money.
This was followed by another notification exactly 3 days later. Now, this one said that BLACK_SWAN has "gained access" to the system and good news would follow soon. The hacker also urged the readers to keep this a secret. This got people hooked. They wanted to know who this guy was and how he was going to help them save money. Some Robinhood!
Our team at Khaleej Times dug deeper and found that the notifications were received by users who had the "Swan" app installed on their phones. Swan is an e-grocery platform in the UAE that has been painting the town red with their tactical outdoor campaigns since the start of 2021. The PR team at Swan declined to comment when approached by the KT team.
We had to sit and watch how this would play out.
By now, the people that received the messages were extremely curious, with some claiming that it was a marketing campaign by Swan. The element of mystery got everyone talking and wondering about the final reveal.
On the morning of 20th May, people received another notification that BLACK_SWAN had created a coupon code for them to save 10 AED on all Swan orders. This was followed by an email from BLACK_SWAN.
When our team contacted Swan, they refused to acknowledge BLACK_SWAN or the creation of promo codes, but it was evident that people had got the message and were about to save big bucks on grocery essentials.
A week into it, we could see a spike in Swan app installs and spoke to a few users. They were literally saving 10 AED on every Swan order. Black_Swan was right all along.
One Khaleej Times reader mentioned, "A flat discount on every purchase is something no other aggregator has offered before, not even the grocery stores themselves. Most apps give a discount on the first order only. A weekend discount or small offers on certain products is common, but 10 AED off on every order any day of the week helps me save considerably more!"
Another user quipped, "Swan was always my go-to app for groceries, but now with this offer, I've started ordering my Healthcare items and pet food as well on Swan. Yesterday, I even ordered my weekly water delivery on Swan, saving another 10 AED."
It was time to call the Swan PR team. This time they did not hold on to their silence and blurted out that this was a planned effort to make something as mundane as ordering groceries interesting for their users and to show that you can save money every time you order on Swan.