Dabur Puts Down Same-Sex Karwa Chauth Ad after Online Abuse and Threats from Right-Wingers

By: Jitesh Dhawan
27 Oct 2021 11:23:22 PM Kurukshetra University, Haryana

After receiving backlash and threats of legal action, consumer products manufacturer Dabur India Ltd. put down a seasonal advertisement featuring a same-sex couple celebrating Karwa Chauth, Exchange4Media reported.  


Before taking the ad down on Monday, the company apologised for the 1.06-minute commercial promoting Dabur's Fem Gold Creme Bleach product. In the advertisement, the two women can be seen getting ready with the product, executing the rite by peering through a sieve at each other and breaking each other's fast. In the backdrop, a parent could be seen celebrating the event with them.


The advertisement was deemed "objectionable" by Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra, who threatened legal action. 


"They're showing lesbians breaking their Karwa Chauth fast today. They might depict two men taking pheras and getting married tomorrow.” Mishra said at a press conference on Tuesday. His remarks came on the same day that the Delhi High Court heard arguments in favour of same-sex marriage recognition under special, Hindu, and foreign marriage laws.


After Mishra's warning, Dabur retracted the advertisement with a note apologising for "unintentionally hurting people's sentiments." The corporation also expressed its gratitude to "everyone who showed their support for the brand and the campaign" in the statement.


(Image: Dabur’s statement)


While the advertising received some positive feedback on social media, many netizens quickly pointed out that it advocates fairness cream and bleach. #BoycottDabur was trending after a section of Twitterati felt the campaign mocked Hindu rites. At the same time, another section stated that the advertisement was defending the patriarchal practice of Karwa Chauth and selling a toxic product in the guise of progress.


Dabur joins a growing list of brands who recently have had to withdraw campaigns and advertisements in response to outrage over the content. A week ago, after experiencing outrage over the collection’s name, Jashn-e-Riwaaz, clothing retailer FabIndia was forced to pull the plug on its Diwali promotional material. 


Last year around this time, Tanishq, the jewellery brand of the Tata group, was the target of social media fury over a commercial depicting a Muslim family throwing a baby shower for their Hindu daughter-in-law. Tanishq later took down the advertising. 


Surf Excel, a Hindustan Unilever brand, faced outrage in 2019 after releasing an advertisement depicting children playing Holi as a young girl from the group helps her Muslim friend reach the mosque without getting splashed with colours.

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