Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), the Indian arm of the British-Dutch conglomerate, in its latest ad aimed at encouraging children to take care of their elderly parents has reduced the Kumbh Mela to a place where ‘old parents are abandoned’.
In a tweet, which is now deleted, HUL reduced the Kumbh Mela to a place where old parents are abandoned.
Following the outrage on the Hinduphobic text and video, HUL, in a damage control mode, deleted the original tweet, about 20 hours after it was shared, and posted a new tweet with same video. In a new tweet, the video is shared with an alternate text removing the reference that Kumbh Mela is a place where old parents get abandoned. However, towards the end, the preachy text still remains.
— Hindustan Unilever (@HUL_News) March 7, 2019
The highly successful Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj concluded on March 4 on Mahashivratri which saw over 24 crore devotees taking a dip at the holy confluence. However, as seen above, the HUL ad depicts it as a place where a visibly jittery son takes his ageing father to the Kumbh and taking advantage of the crowd lets go of his father’s hand, thereby abandoning him. However, as he is walking away, he sees a father trying to make sure his young son does not get lost. This wakes up his conscience and he goes back to fetch his father who had ordered a tea for the two of them because he was sure his son would return.
While the ad strikes all emotional chords, and while it is indeed a reality that in many families children abandon their ageing parents, to reduce the holy Kumbh to only a place where old parents get abandoned is unfair. A lot of Twitter users were visibly angry with this depiction.
If you have no respect for our beliefs refrain from demeaning it. This India is not the one you misguided to create a monopoly. You will hurt yourself in attempts of hurting us.
— abhishek mishra (@indabhi) March 6, 2019
This is so shameful and insulting. How can some one promote one’s product while insulting a whole community and one of the most pious religious congregation.
What kind of sick people suffering from Hinduphobia design such ads ?
Is this mental bankruptcy or hatred for Hindus ? https://t.co/EmX6abyngr
— Amitabh Poddar (@AmitabhPoddar1) March 7, 2019
People even pointed out that even keeping the anti-Hindu part out of the criticism, the ad is in bad taste.
Advertising ethics are overlooked in the creation & dissemination of information to the public in this #Redlabel commercial, do not mock such a successful event. Zero creativity in highlighting negatives. @v2l2b2
— ?? Padmaja ?? (@prettypadmaja) March 7, 2019
Levers, you out of touch colonial has-been!! Fire your dull category manager. The folk protesting, is the TG that buys your environmentally damaging products by the bucketful, you clods
— Lavanya ಲಾವಣ್ಯ লাৱণ্যা (@TheSignOfFive) March 7, 2019
While some used sarcasm to get their point across.
Really powerful tea,having very strong hold on an issue of Khumbh. Can have same power to solve other world wide issue…
Kindly solve the issue of kashmir it’s more important for the India and indeed for world.
It’s disappointing advertisement.#hul_news
— Dipeshkumar Chauhan (@DipeshkumarC) March 7, 2019
And of course, the reality that those who want to abandon their parents would do so anyway, there was no reason to drag the Kumbh Mela to get the point across.
Fuck you Unilever!
You shot this with actors to help resolve an imaginary malaise.
Those who have to abandon their elders, do it anyway.
Why did you drag Kumbh into it? https://t.co/TUI7QuUIZ3
— | nisheeth sharan | (@nisheethsharan) March 7, 2019
Some users even called for legal action against the company.
“Person” is also an organization. So the Kumbh Mela Committee and UP Govt have taken great pains to organize the event with many Police Booths and Lost and Found – so they need to push back and preserve the Reputation.
— Reality Check India (@realitycheckind) March 7, 2019
HUL which owns dozens of consumer brands through which it is notorious for making preachy advertisements. While HUL has deleted the original Hinduphobic tweet, the text towards the end which patronises and reduces the Kumbh to a place where old parents are abandoned still remains.