A men’s body spray commercial in India was removed from advertising platforms after it sparked a massive backlash from critics for trivializing gang rape.
The stars of Bollywood like Priyanka Chopra, Richa Chadha, and Farhan Akhtar have taken to social media in order to voice their criticism against the fragrance commercial, dubbing it “shameful,” “disgusting,” and “incredibly tasteless.”
The video displays the four men seemingly following a woman as she walks through a store, looking frightened, before one of the men states, “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 come under fire on various social media platforms, with critics, including numerous showbiz personalities, slamming 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.
The ministry has 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 requested all its media collaborators to immediately stop broadcasting variations of the commercial from Saturday.
Even following its takedown, the commercial still gained controversy, as many celebrities continued to blast it, with some calling out the creators of the commercial for treating rape as a joke.