NEW DELHI (Web Desk): An Indian perfume ad has sent shockwaves across social media for glorifying rape culture and netizens, alongside numerous Bollywood celebrities, are fuming and rightfully so.
The ad uses gang rape as a sexual innuendo to promote a perfume, leaving most utterly shocked at the distasteful insinuation. Many are questioning how the narrative received approval from multiple gatekeepers and made it to TV screens.
Actors Priyanka Chopra, Farhan Akhtar, Swara Bhaskar and Richa Chadha expressed their anger. “This ad is not an accident. To make an ad, a brand goes through several layers of decision making. Creatives, script, agency, client, casting… does everyone think rape is a joke? Revelatory,” tweeted Richa Chadha.
Replying to her tweet, Priyanka Chopra called the advertisement ‘appalling’. “Shameful and disgusting. How many levels of clearances did it take for this commercial to be green lit. How many people thought this was okay? I’m so glad that it was called out and now the ministry has taken it down. Appalling!”
Farhan Akhtar tweeted, “What incredibly tasteless and twisted minds it must take to think up, approve and create these stinking body spray ‘gang rape’ innuendo ads! Shameful.”
Swara Bhasker called the concept ‘beyond disgusting’. “A teenage girl was gang raped in Hyderabad, such incidents happen daily in India,” she reminded makers. “Companies like Layerr Shot choose to make TV adverts joking about cool-ifying rape and gangrape. Beyond disgusting! Not just tone deaf but also criminal! Absolutely shameful! What agency created it?”
Sona Mohapatra wrote, “Theme – Gang-rape. Gagging after I saw it here on my twitter timeline and wondering if giving them additional publicity is worse.”
Journalist Anshul Saxena, detailing the brand’s ads, chimed in, “First ad: Girl gets scared as four men discuss ‘taking shot’. Second ad: Girl gets scared as four men enter a room and tell a couple that it’s now their turn to ‘take shot’. It’s very clear that makers, actors, writers of ‘Layerr Shot’ ad were aware they are promoting rape culture.”
Another journalist, Monica Verma, reinstated the same. “Layer Shot Ad is extremely bad. Government has banned it but the entire creativity team should be behind bars for promoting rape culture. Every single day there is a brutal gang-rape in our country!”
IMIB bans broadcasting
India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, in a letter addressed to Twitter and YouTube stated, “The above-mentioned videos are detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency or morality, and in violation of rule 3(1)(b)(ii) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which inter-alia provides that the users shall not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information which is insulting or harassing on the basis of gender.”
The letter further added, “It may be mentioned that the concerned videos were also broadcast on TV. In this regard, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the body which lays down the Code for self-regulation in advertising on TV in accordance with rule 7(2)(ix) of the Cable Television Network Rules 1994, has also found the video to be in violation of its guidelines. In this regard, ASCI has notified the advertiser to suspend the ad on an immediate basis”.
Following the backlash, the brand put out a clarification statement on its social media handles. The statement reads: “We would like to inform one and all that only after due and mandatory approvals, we have aired the advertisements, wherein, we never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments or outrage any women’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some. However, we sincerely apologise for the advertisements that consequentially caused rage amongst individuals and several communities and beg their pardon. Most importantly, we have voluntarily informed all our media partners to stop the telecast of both our TV advertisements with immediate effect.”