- While the Hindu right-wing criticizes the company for allegedly destroying Hindu culture, progressives and LGBTQ+ allies hail the ad but slam the company for succumbing to political bullying.
Dabur India Limited has become the latest company to withdraw an advertisement after facing flak on social media. Last week the multinational consumer goods company withdrew an ad showing a lesbian couple celebrating the Hindu festival of Karva Chauth. The Oct. 19 withdrawal came after Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra expressed his strong objection against the Fem Karwa Chauth campaign. He threatened legal actions if the ad wasn’t removed.
The Fem Creme ad, which had gone viral, has depicted two young women preparing for their first Karva Chauth festival. While one woman applies bleach on the other’s face, they are seen discussing the significance of Karva Chauth and the reason for celebrating it. An elderly woman joins them and gifts them both a sari to wear for the occasion. In the night, both women are seen facing each other like husband-wife with a decorated plate having a glass of water, signaling them as partners.
Dabur, in it’s apology, posted on its Twitter account, said: “Fem’s Karwachauth campaign has been withdrawn from all social media handles and we unconditionally apologize for unintentionally hurting people’s sentiments.”
As soon as the ad aired, #BoycottDabur began trending on Twitter. “Selling fake products and producing false and hinduphobic ads to destroy our culture,” tweeted a user named K.K.Paliwal. “Why these kind of woke experiments are being deliberately done only with Hindu Festivals & traditions only..? Very inappropriate way to show the importance of hindu festival…
Some like Naresh Sharma accused Dabur of mocking Hindu festivals. “Dabur’s Fem also started mocking hindu festivals. Very poor ad in which a lesbian couple has been shown making fun of KarwaChauth. They don’t dare to do this mockery on Eid, because we tolerate too much, it’s time we raise our voices for good.”
Some referenced other brands like FabIndia, Tanqish and Manyavar, who faced similar ire from right-wing groups on social media. A few days ago, ethnic and traditional apparel maker FabIndia had to remove a promotional capsule about its new festive line after backlash. Earlier, Tata Group’s jewelry brand Tanishq was forced to withdraw an advertisement that showed an interfaith couple at a baby shower organized for the Hindu bride by her Muslim in-laws. It withdrew the advertisement after trolling soon spread to physical threats to company employees and stores. Clothing brand Manyavar too was at the receiving end when its advertisement featuring Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt in wedding attire, appeared to question an old tradition. The ad got a lot of backlash from the audiences and activists as they thought that it is violating and demoralizing the culture and custom.
Filmmaker-actor Pooja Bhatt slammed the netizens who criticized the ad. “Bas yahi karte raho (keep doing this).. slam, bam, ban! So much for being the ‘Mother’ of democracy! Pity a giant like #Dabur refused to stand behind their AD. While I don’t endorse a fairness cream in principal I reserved my comment as they attempted to celebrate Inclusivity & #PRIDE So why hide now?”
Joining Bhatt were some progressive Indians and LGBTQ+ allies hailed the ad but slammed Dabur for issuing a quick apology and retracting the ad. Freelance tech journalist and digital consultant Abhishek Baxi tweeted: “A nice film for a traditional, often-criticized festival by an otherwise conservative brand.”
Freelance journalist Mitali Saran also took to Twitter to pose a question. “Hello #Dabur, do you not believe your own ad, or is it that you can’t afford a lawyer, or are you plain gutless?”
Shivani Chopra, vice president of INC Delhi tweeted: “If rich/ powerful giants like @DaburIndia
succumb to political bullying, a common man’s fate to defeat is inevitable.”
“It is great to see that inclusive Ads can be made only with Hindu festivals and traditions as Hinduism doesn’t discriminate and accepts all,” tweeted Swati Bellam. “Imagine an ad showing pride couple celebrating E1D. All hell would break lose.”
A user named Yo Yo funny Singh had another perspective. His objection to the ad wasn’t the lesbian angle, but the regressive idea of a fairness product. “But if ‘Black Lives Matter, then why should Dabur be allowed sell such regressive idea of a fairness product which is racist and then on top uses only a Hindu ritual as if only we strive for a Fair Bahu & Beti ?! It was wrong on many counts, not the lesbian angle IMHO.”