The latest Red Label advertisement which was meant to be heartwarming has backfired in the face of the parent company – Hindustan Unilever.
The Advertisement put out the message #ApnoKoApnao portrays a son who is abandoning his father at the Kumbh Mela. The son upon seeing another father-son duo tying their hands to not get separated has a change of heart and goes back to his father. Meanwhile, his father who had optimistically ordered two teas smiles happily and says, “I knew you would come back.”
— Hindustan Unilever (@HUL_News) March 7, 2019
The advertisement concludes with the message –
Kumbh Mela is the largest religious gathering in the world.
At this holy gathering, many elderly are abandoned by their families.
This Kumbh, let’s hold the hands of those who made us who we are.
However, the seemingly harmless message has hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus all over India, who are calling for the boycott of Hindustan Unilever products. Even though the caption says ‘heart-warming’ the advertisement ended up being ‘blood-boiling.’
You deleted this.. But we won’t forget or forgive… Time to say No to Unilever products and yes to Indian brands… My fav is Patanjali pic.twitter.com/NYQSy55za0
— नंदिता ठाकुर (@nanditathhakur) March 7, 2019
Consequently, Unilever has taken down the offending tweet from their official Twitter page, but the ad still remains.
Many feel that the advertisement has disrespected the sanctity of the festival, and is keeping up with the alleged trend of mocking Hindu beliefs and traditions.
The Prayagraj Kumbh Mela 2019 which was held between 15 January to 4 March has secured a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for largest crowd management, largest sanitation drive, and largest painting exercise of public sites.
PM Modi congratulated Uttar Pradesh for the “exceptional” organizing of Kumbh 2019, and said it “showcased the best of culture and spirituality.”
Undoubtedly, casting Kumbh Mela in a negative light at a time when the nation stands most proud of the achievements drawn at this major event has been nothing but a poor marketing strategy. But, what the advertisement claims is not entirely untrue. During the last Kumbh Mela held in 2013, National Geographic News had reported about the dark side of the religious gathering where some take advantage of the swirling crowds to abandon elderly relatives. There are many Allahabad-based social workers who help these abandoned people.
Evidently, this was not the best time to call the nation’s attention to the bitter truth.
Goodwill damage – Yes, Hurt sales – probably No
This reminds Online Trading India of the recent Gillette ad with the tagline “The Best a Man Can Be” which got an overwhelmingly negative response worldwide. The ad was in line with the recent researches which showed that millennials gave more credit to brands that used a Corporate Social Responsibility appeal in its approach. The ad tried to reinforce positive behavior in men. But many felt that it was blatantly insulting to men and was full of stereotypes.
The Gillette ad called for a globe-wide boycott. According to Gillette, the noise and threats of boycotts haven’t translated into a hit to sales.
Unilever is the parent company of many of our favorite brands like Axe, Sunsilk, Dove, Wheel, Vaseline, Lifebuoy, Lux etc. So far, the company has not come up with an apology. This move shows that they aren’t too worried about the tempest in the social media teapot.