AHMEDABAD: Mankind Pharma has pulled down almost 500 hoardings promoting its Manforce condoms across Gujarat after a traders’ body protested the campaign’s reference to the ongoing Navratri festival.
“Navratri hoardings campaign was not meant to hurt anyone’s sentiments and was immediately withdrawn. We deeply regret any such incident,“ the company tweeted after withdrawing the advertisement featuring actor Sunny Leone and the tagline saying ‘play safe this Navratri’.
She might be the most Googled personality of the year, trumping even Narendra Modi but something about Sunny Leone makes us very nervous indeed. When her film Jism 2 was released, her effigy was burned in public and PIL was filed to get the film banned because it “illegally” promoted a porn star.
The latest cloud in our Sunny skies is a Manforce condom ad. More specifically a condom ad tied to Navaratri.
“Aa Navratriye ramo, paraantu prem thi (Play but with love, this Navaratri)” it advises us while Sunny Leone looks on seductively alongside a pair of dandiya sticks.
Though they have not used the word condom in their banner, the intention is very clear as the combination of words like ‘play’, ‘love’ and ‘Navratri’ are coined above the large logo of Manforce,” CAIT National Secretary Praveen Khandelwal said in the letter.
The hoarding shows Leone on one side staring at text written in Gujarati, “Ya Navratriyon Ramo Parantu Prem Thi” — which translates into play in Navratri but with love, between two dandiya sticks and above the Manforce logo.
The complaint is against the Manforce condom ad in the coastal trading city of Surat. The local cops promptly brought down the hoardings. While the ad itself does not mention the word condom or sex, it does show Bollywood actress Sunny Leone and carry the tagline “Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi” (This Navratri, play, but with love).
“Considering the festival is a celebration of strength of a woman, how could a brand time its condom commercial around the festival,“ CAIT secretary general Praveen Khandelwal asked. “It is insulting and extremely irresponsible.“
The traders’ body had earlier this week raised the issue with the Union consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan, claiming that the Manforce commercial put the nine-day Navratri festival, which began on Thursday , in bad light.
“The message in Gujarati on the hoarding reads ‘Aa Navratri a ramo, parantu premthi’ – Play but with love, this Navratri. The insinuation on the hoardings from a condom brand insults the religious sentiments of Hindus. This cannot be tolerated and our protests will get stronger if these hoardings are not removed immediately. Protests are necessary to deter others from trying something similar again in future,” Narendra Chaudhary, businessman and president of Hindu Yuva Vahini, told TOI.
Navratri, or “Nine Nights,” which begins today (Sept. 21), is a festival observed across the country by most Hindus, who fast and pray for nine days. Piety apart, the festival is also a time to rejoice and make merry. Among Gujaratis particularly, it is marked by night-long social gatherings and community dancing—the Garba or Dandiya dance form being extremely popular.