Tanishq withdraws advertisement on inter-faith family after being trolled on social media

The jewellery company said Tuesday that it's dropping the television commercial as it has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective

Press Trust of India October 13, 2020 20:58:48 IST
Tanishq withdraws advertisement on inter-faith family after being trolled on social media

A screen grab from the ad by Tanishq | YouTube

New Delhi: A Tanishq ad on interfaith marriage triggered a furious backlash on social media with some accusing the jewellery brand of promoting 'love jihad', prompting the company on Tuesday to withdraw the film citing hurt sentiments and the well-being of its staff.

It said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions". The film, it added, had stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective.

The company's move prompted intense debate on social media and elsewhere, just as the ad to promote its jewellery collection Ekatvam (oneness) had deepened societal faultlines since its release last week.

The 43-second commercial, which led to the hashtag #BoycottTanishq trending on Twitter, shows a pregnant woman being led to her bridal shower, a Hindu custom called 'godh bharai', by a woman who viewers later realise is her mother-in-law.

The description of the video on YouTube read: She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don't. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions, cultures."

The commercial opened the floodgates of debate and trolling with a flurry of tweets, some angry and threatening, demanding a ban on the advertisement and a boycott of the brand, a Tata product.

Tanishq first disabled comments and likes/dislikes on its ad on YouTube, and on Tuesday withdrew the video altogether.

"We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff," a Tanishq spokesperson said in a statement.

The idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness, the spokesperson added.

The removal of the ad led to a fresh debate with several people, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, writer Chetan Bhagat and actor Swara Bhasker calling out the trolls.

Congress leader Abhishek Singhvi tweeted: "Those boycotting the Tanishq ad don't like seeing daughter in law(s) happy around mother in law's. You have seen too many soaps & too much prime times news," tweeted Singhvi.

Two States author Bhagat said the company should not get bullied.

Actor Swara Bhasker put out a caustic tweet saying, Such a large company, such a weak spine.

"TBH, reacting to paid twitter trends and manufactured outrage is just myopic. The ad was lovely. Standing by it would have made 'em cooler, foresighted and balsy. But alas #tanishq," added her colleague Richa Chadha.

Blogger and writer Richa Singh came out in the company's support, saying those preaching that Tanishq should not have withdrawn the ad obviously don't own jewellery shops.

In a hooligan environment like the present, they will first protect their employees' and business interest and then think about your inquilab. So please, drop it, she tweeted.

The polarisation was evident right since 9 October when the ad was first released with many people slamming Tanishq for projecting fictional interfaith union and promoting love jihad', a term refers to an alleged campaign by Muslims to convert Hindu girls in the guise of love. And many others lauding it for showing a syncretic, harmonious India.

"Tanishq jewellery's 'Ekatvam' series' ad projects a fictional 'interfaith' union, a Muslim family, a Hindu daughter-in-law being allowed to do a Hindu ritual. Nothing but promotion of love jihad #BoycottTanishq," tweeted former IAS officer and author Sanjay Dixit.

BJP leader and former MP Geetha Kothapalli described the ad as bizarre, highly objectionable and normalising #LoveJihad.

As the clamour for the boycott of Tanishq grew, there were many who came out in its support. Many kudos came its way for "not shying away from addressing one of the biggest divides" in the nation.

Journalist and columnist Shobhaa De posted a tweet with the hashtag #downwithbigotry'.

It is not the first time that Tanishq has broken stereotype and challenged societal norms with its ad.

In 2013, it promoted remarriage in an ad made by Lowe Lintas. However, back then the commercial didn't attract any controversy and was widely appreciated.

The agency received plaudits this time too.

Last year, Surf Excel was severely criticised for an ad showing Hindu-Muslim unity.

The detergent brand, known for its tagline daag acche hai', was subjected to the '#Boycott Surf Excel' trend on Twitter. Its Holi ad featured two children, a Hindu girl and a Muslim boy. The girl dressed in white is seen riding a bicycle and challenging neighbourhood kids to splash colour on her. It is later revealed that she did so to protect her Muslim friend who had to go to the mosque for prayers.

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