An advertisement that appears to glorify gang rape has been met with widespread revulsion in India.
FIRST A CAVEAT: NO, WE WON’T SHARE THE MULTIPLE VARIATIONS OF THE ADVERT WITHIN THIS ARTICLE BECAUSE IT APPEARS THAT THAT MIGHT JUST BE WHAT THE AD AGENCY WANTS – FOR PEOPLE TO KEEP SHARING IT AND BROADENING ITS REACH.
Priyanka Chopra, Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Richa Chadha are among the stars that have condemned the advertisement for a deodorant named ‘Shot’ made by a company called Layer’r.
In one version, four young boys stare at an attractive young girl who is bent over, with one of them asking, “there are four of us and only one of them. So who should take it?”, at which point the girl swivels around with a look of alarm on her face only to realize that the boys are talking about the one remaining bottle of deodorant on the shop shelf.
In another version, the same boys barge into a bedroom where one of them is talking to his girlfriend and utters the same line, much to the shock of the girl. Only for the girl to realize…you know the rest.
Richa CHaddha tweeted: “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 every everyone think rape is a joke? Revelatory!” Priyanka Chopra Jonas echoed the sentiment in response to Chaddha’s tweet, saying “Shameful and disgusting. How many levels of clearances did it take for this commercial to be green lit. How many people thought this was ok? I’m so glad that it was called out and now the ministry has taken it down. Appalling!”
Many have been appalled at how the advertisement would have passed muster among the dozens of “creatives” who dreamt it up and the various levels of ad executives who gave the campaign the green light. This in a country that was convulsed by the unimaginably brutal gang rape of a 22-year-old girl on a bus in Delhi in 2012, and where gang rapes have been as frequent and diabolical an occurrence as mass shootings are in the United States. That context was best encapsulated in a tweet by Swara Bhaskar.
“A teenage girl was gang raped in Hyderabad-such incidents happen daily in India.. companies like @layerr_shot choose to make TV adverts joking abt & ‘cool-ifying’ rape & gangrape. Beyond disgusting! Not just tone deaf, also criminal! Absolutely shameful! What agency created it?”, she tweeted.
India’s Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has since asked social media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter to take down the advert and is planning sanctions on the ad agency, which is yet to be definitively identified.