This morning, Indians woke up to front page advertisements on most newspapers featuring Reliance Jio, the telco from Reliance Industries that was launched yesterday. The advertisement raised eyebrows because it featured Prime Minister Modi in a colour-coordinated blue jacket.
Yesterday, while launching Reliance Jio, Ambani said that Jio is a dedication to Digital India dream of the Prime Minister and "his vision for the 1.2 billion people of India". Seems like he really meant the dedication bit.
The advertisement has left Twitteratti confused. Many are wondering if the Prime Minister is now the brand ambassador of Jio.
From political rivals to the aam aadmi, everyone is wondering about the ad on Twitter this morning.
Any more proof reqd to prove that - मोदी जी अम्बानी की जेब में। pic.twitter.com/YyBOUQn9Xt— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) September 2, 2016
Why is the prime minister - and his steely gaze - endorsing a private company? Truly, sab mile hue hai ji. pic.twitter.com/TNWR2fsvzy— Brown Sahiba (@Rajyasree) September 2, 2016
Narendra Modi's Pic in Reliance Jio Ad is Tricky debate. Companies can't use PM's Pic for Promotion - but they can use their employee's pic— Joy (@Joydas) September 2, 2016
Man, Mukesh Ambani looks creepy with that beard in those Reliance Jio ads.— Raja Sen (@RajaSen) September 2, 2016
Can't wait for Modiji's voice to tell me "Mitroṅ, aapka dial kiya gaya number is waqt kisi anya call par vyast hai"— Tanmay Bhat (@thetanmay) September 2, 2016
To sell your most ambitious product, you need your best salesman. pic.twitter.com/Cekjqymaqc— Rofl Gandhi (@RoflGandhi_) September 2, 2016
So, is this legal? That's the question on everyone's mind right now.
"Everyone does it. Lots of small advertisers have used politicians' pictures in the past. That doesn't make it right. But, with the Reliance ad, the question is, whether PM Modi has approved of it," said Anant Rangaswami, editor of Storyboard, the advertising, media and marketing show on CNBC-TV18.
The Emblems And Names (Prevention Of Improper Use) Act, 1950, notes, "No person shall, except in such cases and under such conditions as may be prescribed by the Central Government use, or continue to use, for the purpose of any trade, business, calling or profession, or in the title of any patent, or in any trade mark or design, any name or emblem specified in the Schedule or, any colourable imitation thereof without the previous permission of the Central Government or of such officer of Government as may be authorised in this behalf by the Central Government."
Earlier this year, Pune-based real estate group - Maple Group --got in trouble for using Modi's photo in their advertisement. They were forced to apologise to Modi and Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for using their photos.
Now, an activist has filed an RTI to find out whether Reliance took Modi's permission before publishing the advertisement and seeking details on it.
There was no response from the PMO or RIL at the time of writing this article.
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