Do we, secular Indians, ban advertisements that promote communal harmony?
The jewellery brand Tanishq, owned by the Tata group, launched ‘Ekatvam’ advertisement on October 9, 2020. The advertisement depicted a Muslim family organising a baby shower for their Hindu daughter-in-law.
However, the advertisement was pulled into the dominion of the larger Hindutva narrative where the right-wing patrons termed it as a campaign of ‘Love Jihad’, a method used by the Muslim community to convert Hindu women into their religion through means of marriage or love.
#BoycottTanishq started trending on social media and the brand succumbed to trolls and removed the advertisement across the platforms on October 12.
A statement from the company stated that the idea behind the campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during the challenging times of Covid-19 pandemic and celebrate the beauty of oneness.
— Tanishq (@TanishqJewelry) October 13, 2020
“This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective. We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and wellbeing of our employees, partners and store staff,” it said.
In an interview to PTI, Amit Akali, Managing Partner and Creative Head of ‘Whats Your Problem’, the agency behind the advertisement campaign told PTI despite the advertisement being withdrawn, many people came out in support of the campaign.
“People are going out there and telling us that we will not let this film get deleted, they are sharing the film on their own even though it has been removed. Or there is a movement where people are buying Tanishq and showing us the bills,” Akali added.
To show solidarity with Tanishq, here’s a purchase my family made and have become a lifelong customer.
Fuck your agenda, cheers 🥂 to Secular India. Jai hind. Jai bharat. 🇮🇳
@RNTata2000 @TanishqJewelry#TanishqAd #tanishq pic.twitter.com/7Qy96iggCl
— Official Shitting Human (@ShittingH) October 21, 2020
— ashutosh (@ashutosh83B) October 13, 2020
— rasika agashe (@rasikaagashe) October 14, 2020
He also asserted that no one would have expected the backlash because “communal harmony is the centre of our fabric”.
Nevertheless, this controversy increased Tanishq’s visibility and polished its brand reputation with the overwhelming positive coverage, in both, mainstream and social media. As per Google Trends, post withdrawal of the ‘Ekatvam’ ad, the search volume of the brand was almost twice as high in the pre-withdrawal period.
However, this is not the first time that a brand has received flak over its advertisements. In 2019, social media users expressed their rage on detergent brand Surf Excel’s Holi campaign that showed the bond between a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy.