Any brand does its best to attract attention to its products. But sometimes this can backfire and create a controversy. In which case, there is plenty of attention but of the wrong kind. Some brands deliberately push the envelope as far as they can but some just blunder into controversy without meaning to.
PayTM released an ad following the demonetisation announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi which led to an uproar in the social media. Many felt that the ad was mocking the hardship being faced by people because of demonetisation.
— इशरत के पप्पा (@Nitishva_) November 13, 2016
A furious public tagged the PayTM chief on Twitter, expressing their anger over the ad and threatening to uninstall the PayTM app.
PayTM responded by toning down the "problematic" ad and re-uploading it the next day on Twitter.
With our strong belief in financial inclusion for every Indian, here is our upgraded ad. pic.twitter.com/DiUbNuERGK
— Paytm (@Paytm) November 14, 2016
Here's a list of Indian print ads and TV commercials that sparked or courted controversy and some of which were eventually banned.
1. Tuff shoes. (1995)
Shot in 1995, the black & white photograph of super models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre posing nude, wearing nothing but a pair of Tuff shoes and a python wrapped around their body, stirred controversy nationwide. The ad was banned and the models were charged with indecent behaviour in a court. Another case was filed against this ad under the Wildlife Protection Act for the illegal use of a python and for cruelty to animals.
2. Amul Macho. (2007)
Indian actress and model Sana Khan was featured in a racy commercial wherein she washes a man's underwear while making sexual innuendos. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting wasn't very
impressed and put a ban on the "indecent, vulgar and suggestive" ad.
3. Fastrack. (2011)
Fastrack signed cricketer Virat Kohli and actress Genelia D'Souza for a series of TV commercials. One ad had Kohli as a pilot and D'Souza as an air-hostess getting cozy in the cockpit and endangering the lives of their innocent passengers. Many objected to their callous disregard for human lives.
The ad was criticised by many in the aviation industry.
Switzerland-based inner-wear company Calida signed up Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea for an ad in which Morea was seen pulling off Basu's underwear with his teeth. The ad was eventually banned after several women's organisations raised their voices against it. Basu claimed that the shots were just some private moments that were not meant to be photographed and used.
5. Ford Figo. (2013)
The Ford Motor Company was forced to apologise for an ad that was taglined, "Leave your worries behind with Figo's extra-large boot," and featured a cartoon showing three women tied in the rear of a vehicle driven by Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister. The cartoon was posted by JWT India, one of the world's largest ad agencies. However, it was reported that ad had not gone through the agency's regular review and oversight process.
6. Manforce Condoms. (2014)
Bollywood actor Sunny Leone is seen posing seductively and reaching for black grapes in the Manforce condom ad. CPI leader Atul Anjan and Ex-DCW chief Barkha Singh called for a ban on it, calling it "shabby, ugly or immoral" and alleging that "such ads increase rapes in the country."
7. Virgin Mobile. (2010)
Virgin Mobile arrived in the Indian market during the third season of Indian Premier League (IPL). The campaign had supporters of different teams calling up their friends to troll them after a match. The ads were telecast for a few days and then vanished into thin ether.
8. Kamasutra Condom commercial. (1991)
Back in 1991, Kamasutra condoms released an ad starring model-actress Pooja Bedi and supermodel Marc Robinson. In an era when the song Pyaar Hua Iqraar Hua was enough to make people uncomfortable, Kamasutra openly displayed "pleasure and sex" in the steamy ad. The commercial was banned and prohibited from transmission.
9. Motorola. (2008)
This Motorola C550 mobile phone ad never made it to television.
10. Lux Cozy. (2007)
Lux Cozy faced the same fate as Amul Macho. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting ordered a ban on it, labelling it as "indecent, vulgar and suggestive".
11. Cadbury Temptations. (2002)
Back in 2002, Cadbury committed a blunder of epic proportions. The newspaper campaign featured a map of India with the tagline "Too good to share" written on Jammu & Kashmir. "I'm good. I'm tempting. I'm too good to share. What am I? Cadbury's Temptations or Kashmir?" was the catch line.
You can see the controversial map here.
12. Set Wet Zatak & Wild Stone Deo. (2011)
These deodorant ads showed women lusting over men whose sprayed-on deos came under the scanner. The ministry found the ads "indecent, vulgar and suggestive".
The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) was directed to ensure that the adverts were modified or taken off the air.
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