Water purifier brand Kent RO withdrew its controversial ad on Wednesday, issuing an apology after it received massive backlash on social media for depicting domestic helps as coronavirus infection carriers.
The advertisement was for its atta and bread maker that said, "are you allowing your maid to knead atta dough by hand? Her hands may be infected." It went on to urge people not to "compromise on health and purity" and chose the company's atta maker instead.
The ad featuring Bollywood superstar and BJP MP Hema Malini and her daughter Esha Deol backfired for Kent with many denouncing it as being "classist", "misogynist" and "discriminatory".
Here is the screen grab of the taken down ad:-
Issuing an apology on the company's official Twitter handle, Kent Ro's chairman and managing director Mahesh Gupta said, "Please accept our sincere apologies for having published the Ad of Kent Atta & Bread Maker. It was unintentional but wrongly communicated and it has been withdrawn. We support and respect all sections of society."
Please accept our sincere apologies for having published the Ad of Kent Atta & Bread Maker. It was unintentional but wrongly communicated and it has been withdrawn. We support and respect all sections of the society.— Kent RO (@KentROSystems) May 27, 2020
Mahesh Gupta, Chairman
But by the time the company withdrew the ad, netizens had already started slamming Kent calling it out for the blatant dehumanisation of domestic helps.
Here are some of the tweets:
“Are you allowing yourself maid to knead atta dough by hand?— شہناز سید (@hopelesschirp) May 26, 2020
Her hands may be infected.
These words went through multiple review cycles and made it to print.
Let’s take a moment to reflect.
Discrimination and dehumanising is skin deep in our society isn’t it? https://t.co/yvrVOa5END
This is deplorable. Whoever is behind creating, approving and releasing this ad needs to be called out and shamed.— V Jaskirat Singh Nagra 🇮🇳 (@jsn4x4) May 27, 2020
Horrible campaign by @KentROSystems. I am astonished that @dreamgirlhema agreed to associate with this.#insensitive#wronghttps://t.co/cJ6Wmh6CGr
Classism, Casteism and much more this is so disrespectful. These workers are helping us day & night making it possible for us to relax and enjoy life. It’s time to purify your own thoughts first #Kent#KentRO@dreamgirlhema@Esha_Deol you must stand with what is right. pic.twitter.com/aKi55DCLoO— apra kuchhal (@aprakuchhal) May 27, 2020
Controversy in marketing & advertising can be a constructive way of getting noticed, reason why some brands purposely create a splash.— Vani Sehgal (@sehgalvanii) May 27, 2020
A thought very poorly communicated by ad agency of #KentRO came out as
completely snobbish & insensitive. pic.twitter.com/lZSWdeaK9u
#PandemicProfiteers#MonetisingMisery#Ghouls— Rakesh Sharma (@rakeshfilm) May 26, 2020
Shame on you #Kent, for preying on fears!
And this awful, obnoxious, ill-timed ad campaign.
ps: Any evidence that the virus survives the hot tawa and the reheating over direct gas flames, to get into the cooked Roti/ chapati? https://t.co/6s3405cgXX