After receiving much criticism for its campaign's reference to the Navratri festival, Mankind Pharma has taken down almost 500 hoardings promoting its condoms across Gujarat.
“The Navratri hoardings campaign was not meant to hurt anyone's sentiments and was immediately withdrawn. We deeply regret any such incident,“ the company, reported Economic Times, said in a statement after withdrawing the advertisement featuring actor Sunny Leone.
The campaign, which had gone up with the tagline, "Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi (This Navratri, play, but with love)," was pulled down following a traders' body protest.
The Confederation Of All India Traders had urged the Union information and broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani to formulate a code of conduct for brand ambassadors with stringent penal provisions against irresponsible endorsements.
Citing the example of Manforce Condoms' advertisement, it claimed that the company had tried "to ride piggyback on the festive sentiment of Navratri to sell its product."
"What is offensive about the advertisement is that it brazenly uses double meanings and innuendos with commercial gains in mind, completely disregarding any sensitivity to the social and cultural fabric without caring for the consequences of such an action on impressionable young minds and at a time when religious fervour is at a high," CAIT had said in the letter.
CAIT had initially written to Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan seeking ban on the advertisement. In a letter to Paswan, the body appealed for appropriate action against the manufacturer, Mankind Pharma and its brand ambassador.
The campaign also angered doctors from an RSS-affiliated medical association based in Gujarat. According to Ahmedabad Mirror, the National Medicos Organisation (NMO) appealed to its 2,000 life members and 5,000 other affiliated doctors not to prescribe the medicines of Mankind Pharma.
NMO's Gujarat president Prakash Kurmi put up a notice at his hospital, asking medical representatives from the company to refrain from meeting the hospital management.
Following several complaints, the Surat police took down hoardings under its jurisdiction. “We have brought such hoardings down, as the advertisement was of condoms and it should not be linked up with the religious festivals and even the photo of Sunny Leone was semi-nude,” Surat Commissioner of Police Satish Sharma was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
Failing to counter the protests, Mankind took down the hoardings even though surveys have shown that condom sales do go up 25-50% during Garba season while Navaratri is in full swing in Gujarat, as reported by India TV. Oral contraceptive sales go even higher.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Sep 22, 2017 09:36 AM