Following the backlash over the controversial advertisement featuring actor Sunny Leone, Mankind Pharma withdrew the ad and issued a statement which read, “The Navratri hoardings campaign was not meant to hurt anyone's sentiments and was immediately withdrawn. We deeply regret any such incident.”
The billboards had been put up with the tagline, ‘Aa Navratrie ramo parantu prem thi (This Navratri, play, but with love).’
The hoardings were pulled down following protests by a traders’ body.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) had urged the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani to formulate a code of conduct for brand ambassadors with stringent penal provisions against irresponsible endorsements.
The Confederation quoted the example of Manforce Condoms' advertisement claiming that the company had tried ‘to ride piggyback on the festive sentiment of Navratri to sell its product.’
"What is offensive about the advertisement is that it brazenly uses double meanings and innuendos with commercial gains in mind, completely disregarding any sensitivity to the social and cultural fabric without caring for the consequences of such an action on impressionable young minds and at a time when religious fervour is at a high," CAIT had said in the letter.
CAIT had earlier written to Union Consumer Affairs Minister Ram Vilas Paswan seeking a ban on the advertisement.
Failing to counter the protests, Mankind took down the hoardings even though surveys have shown that condom sales do go up 25-50% during Garba season while Navaratri is in full swing in Gujarat, as reported by India TV. Oral contraceptive sales go even higher.
With PTI inputs