An ad for a body spray for men was banned in India after it sparked intense criticism that the company was making light of gang rape.
Bollywood personalities, including Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chadha, and Farhan Akhtar, are not happy with the new commercial for Layer’r Shot, a male fragrance brand, referring to it as “shameful,” “disgusting,” and “incredibly tasteless.”
The video displays four men seemingly stalking a woman, who looks frightened, in the store ahead of one of the men stating, “We’re four, there’s one, who takes the shot?”
When the woman turns around, only then does the audience find out that the men are talking about the body spray – which one of the men gets from the store shelf and uses.
The commercial has been the target of numerous harsh critics, including social media users and celebrities. Many have deemed its insinuation as making light of rape.
Several people stated that the timing of the advertisement is quite insensitive since it was aired only a week following a case in which five men in the southern city of Hyderabad allegedly raped a 17-year-old was revealed – the most recent in a series of major crimes against women and minority groups all over the country.
“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and promoting a rapist mentality among men. The advertisement is cringeworthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” said the Delhi Commission for Women chairwoman Swati Maliwal in a letter to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Saturday.
Within 24 hours, the ministry had already taken down the commercial and notified Twitter and YouTube to withdraw it from their platforms.
The ministry, in an email to Twitter, wrote the videos were “detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency and morality” and went beyond the line of the digital media ethics code.
In a statement on Monday, Layer’r Shot expressed its apologies for the television commercial, stating it “never intended to hurt anyone’s sentiments or feelings or outrage any woman’s modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some.”
The brand has called for all its media collaborators to halt broadcasting variations of the commercial starting Saturday.
The commercial gained controversy even after its removal, as many celebrities continued to blast it. Some called out the creators of this video for treating rape as a joke.