Every now and then Indian media blows up in rage over controversial content in advertisements, especially if they are seen to be supporting or promoting a negative aspect of the society. One of the latest examples are the Layer’r Shot ads. Netizens are still outraged over these ads, even after the company apologized and removed them. Some industry analysts say it is nothing more than ‘spit and run’ advertising. Several campaigns, including those by fast-food company Nando’s, cosmetic brand 18 Again and whiskey brand Imperial Blue, have come close. Younger customers who are less likely to shy away from controversy are taking advantage of an old trick in a new bottle.
1. A body spray for men called Layer’r Shot was unknown to most people until last week. However, that soon changed after Gujarat-based firm Adjavis Venture Ltd released ads that could be interpreted as promoting sexual violence against women.
2. Amul’s campaign during the pandemic also gained a lot of negative feedback. The advertisement ‘Wuhan Se Yahaan’ ignited controversy over being insensitive.
3. A Paytm advertisement depicted a young (primary-school-age child) aspiring cricketer, who is slapped by his angry coach for slacking and not concentrating on his own game. The ad goes on to illustrate how the kid works hard to be the perfect student and eventually grows up to become the Master Blaster. Netizens were appalled by what they took to be justification for the kid’s assault.
4 . The advertisement for Jawed Habib’s salon featured images of Indian gods. Religion isn’t exactly tolerated on TV and in print in our country. Later, the ace hairdresser had to apologize publicly and remove the ad.
5. A Manforce advertisement with Sunny Leone on its poster was released during Navratri in light to sell condoms in Gujarat. Later, due to public outrage, the company was forced to withdraw the ad after a public outcry.
6. In a deodorant advertisement called Zatak, women lust over men wearing a particular deodorant. The advertisement was deemed “indecent, vulgar, and provocative” by the Advertising Standards Council of India (Asci). The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was tasked with modifying or removing the advertisements from the airwaves.
7. Advertisement for the Sabyasachi Mangalsutra For his luxurious mangalsutra ad campaign, the ace designer earned a lot of flak. The commercial was compared to a ‘condom’ and a ‘lingerie’ ad because of the intimate photographs featured in it. Of course, the campaign was later cancelled by the brand.
8. One of the biggest problems that a commercial encountered this year was Dabur’s Karwa Chauth advertisement, which was created with same-sex marriages in mind. Dabur’s ‘Fem’ merchandise featured two ladies celebrating Karwa Chauth together, which garnered criticism. The commercial featured women bleaching their faces for a more even complexion. Some people were offended by the utilisation of a Hindu tradition, while others were offended by the complexion-biased nature of this campaign.
9. FabIndia’s Diwali commercial was also met with criticism. On October 9, it tweeted an ad for its holiday collection, which was met with backlash from social media users. In its ad for the Diwali collection, FabIndia utilised the phrase ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz.‘ The brand was accused of ‘disrupting the Hindu celebration,’ prompting them to cancel the commercial and delete the tweet.
10. A Zomato ad played on the famous ‘MC BC’ song by turning it into the classic Mac-n-Cheese and Butter Chicken. There was outrage that the company’s ads were offensive and in bad taste (ironic seeing as it’s a food company).