Why brands should not poke at the religious sentiments

Know other similar controversies like the Tanishq add


The jewellery brand Tanishq witnessed yet another backlash on Twitter after the brand released a commercial on how to celebrate Diwali. The advertisement featured actors Sayani Gupta, Alaya Furniturewala, Neena Gupta and Nimrat Kaur taking about how they will celebrate their Diwali. Sayani Gupta in the add says a big no to firecrackers this Diwali. The ‘no-firecrackers’ appeal of the brand did not go well with the social media users as they criticized the brand for advising Hindus how to celebrate their festival.

The jewellery brand then took down its video from their Youtube and facebook accounts. Earlier, they had faced a bigger backlash after they showed a pregnant woman pleasantly taken aback by her Muslim mother-in-law, who had organized a baby shower (God Bharai). As soon as the commercial was run on the Internet, Twitter erupted with a call to #boycottTanishq. Many social media threatened the brand to never buy their products saying that why it was not a Muslim woman instead, married to a Hindu family? Why are they promoting “Love Jihad.”

The social media outrage then reached to the newsrooms. The incident was used as a oxygen of publicity and normal people, who had no views earlier, were now forced to take a side. Within no time, a war of Us and Them started. Taunts were fired at each other amongst Left-Liberal, Pseudo Secular, Bhakt and more. The insult war which is a norm on news channels kept growing where each side hurled back to the other without missing the chance.

However, the redeeming point of the boycott at the time of the first controversial ad was that a number of couples swarmed social media with pictures of their interfaith marriages.

Read more: 4 times fake news was used amid pandemic to instigate communal hatred: the Corona Jihad

Other instances when brands faced backlash for hurting religious sentiments.


Jawed Habib

Hairstylist and businessman Jawed Habib, who runs a franchise of hair salons across India stirred controversy when he released an advertisement with religious symbolism around the Durga Puja time in 2017. The newspaper ad had shown various gods of Hindus – Durga, Lakshmi, Ganesh and Saraswati, having a spa day at Habib’s. The caption read “Gods too visit Jawed Habib Salon.” The images of god putting make-up and counting money drew flak from social media users who accused the Jawed Habib of targeting the gods of the religion he doesn’t follow. Even a salon was vandalized in Uttar Pradesh. Later, Habib had to issue a video apology for the controversial advertisement.


Surf Excel

Surf-Excel is known for its creative ads an advertisement released during the Holi time earlier this year did not do well with the netizens. In the ad, a young Hindu girl chooses to get her white T-shirt stained in Holi colours to protect her young Muslim friend who has to go to a mosque for Namaz. The commercial ended with its classic tagline: “Daag achhe hain. Agar kuch achha karne me daag lag jaaye toh daag achhe hain.” Surf excel had to face backlash for the commercial.



A 2017 advertisement of Manforce, the condom brand, featuring Sunny Leone, was caught in a controversy after it put up 500 hoardings in Gujrat. Sunny Leone was displayed as the poster face with the caption “Play Safe.” The ad was marketed just before the Navratri festival. While the advertisement intended to promote safe sex, many people took it to be a desecration of the Nine-day festival’s sanctity and promotion of sexual intimacy during that specific period.


Lesson learnt

More often than not, the brands succumb to the social media outrage and take down their advertisements. The brands have to learn the lesson of not poking at the religious sentiments, although most of these ads are genuinely great. The latest ad of Tanishq says not to use firecrackers. It is hard to understand how it is against Hindu culture. There is no discussion of bursting crackers in the mythological books of Hindus. It’s something we have picked on our own.

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