After Kumbh Ad, Hindustan Unilever Faces Backlash Over Holi Ad For Surf Excel; #BoycottSurfExcel?

HUL has refused to takedown either of the videos.

HUL's controversial ad on Holi
HUL’s controversial ad on Holi

One of India’s most admired companies: Rs 4490 crore worth Hindustan Unilever is again in trouble. Hashtag ##BoycottSurfExcel was trending on Twitter this weekend, and social media is angry with the company.

This is their second major controversy after their advertisement for Red Label tea shot at Kumbh Mela drew ire of the netizens.

What exactly is happening here?

Hindustan Unilever Faces Backlash Over Holi Ad

Using the theme of Surf Excel’s ‘Daag Ache Hai’ (Dirt Is Good), the creative minds behind Hindustan Unilever launched a Holi-specific advertisement called  ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ (Colors bring us together)

This was supposed to be an advertisement promoting Hindu-Muslim unity, against the backdrop of Holi. This advertisement was created by Lowe Lintas Mumbai, and the video has already garnered 8.5 million views on Youtube at the time of writing.

In the ad, we can see a Hindu girl intentionally getting splashed with colors from all kids in the society, so that a Muslim boy can go without getting hit with colors.

Some Muslims avoid playing Holi and getting immersed with colors and the theme of this ad was that, a Hindu girl ‘protecting’ a Muslim boy, and thereby promoting communal harmony.

But the exact opposite happened.

Several users on Twitter and other social media portals strongly objected to HUL using ‘daag’ or blot for Holi festival, which counts among top three most important festival for Hindus all over the world.

Besides, the issue of a Hindu girl ‘protecting’ a Muslim boy from indirect Holi hooliganism was also not taken lightly, with some extreme commentators mentioning ‘love jihad’.

Hashtag #BoycottSurfExcel was extensively used by Twitter users to showcase their anger, and some miscreants also tried to mass-order HUL’s products, especially Surf Excel via CoD on Amazon and Flipkart, and then proposed rejecting that order.

On the other hand, some supported the concept of the ad, and have praised the idea behind this.

One Twitter, one user said, “Such a beautiful ad. Watched it 10 times, left me smiling EVERY SINGLE TIME. Depicts India through the eyes of innocent/naughty/lovely kids ? Touched. Why attack #SurfExcel? Why look for conspiracies everywhere? ?”

The controversy over this Surf Excel ad is refusing to die down, and the company has decided not to remove the video.

There has been no statement from HUL over this ad.

Controversy Continues: HUL’s Kumbh Mela Ad For Red Label

Days before the Holi ad for Surf Excel, HUL had released an ad for Red Label, set against the backdrop of Kumbh Mela.

In the ad, a son is seen deliberately leaving behind his aging father in the crowd of Kumbh Mela, and then realizing his mistake, and then coming back to his father.

In the end, both are seen sipping Red Label tea on the banks of Ganga.

Patanjali founder Baba Ramdev was at the forefront of such protests, and said, “What is the stature (aukaat) of these MNCs to be making unsavoury comments on India’s glorious cultural heritage? Is India, for them, merely a market to be plundered?”

After the backlash, HUL removed a tweet about this ad, and replaced it with another tweet, but didn’t remove the advertisement.

We will keep you updated, as we receive more information on the backlash against HUL.

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