Recently, Surf Excel, a Hindustan Unilever product released a commercial on Holi and it received many positive as well as negative comments on social media. It is not new that big brands cash in on the festivals and Surf Excel is no exception. Holi is a perfect festival to advertise a detergent. So, you might have a question about what went wrong. The ‘mistake’ done for the Surf Excel Holi Ad was that, they did give a twist of communal harmony which was not only different but also hurting the religious sentiments of many.
The advertisement got many negative comments on social media and there were calls to boycott the brand and the product. For all those who did not follow the controversy, let me first brief you.
The one-minute ad by Surf Excel has the title ‘Rang Laye Sang’ which means colours will bring you together. The ad features two children, one a Hindu girl and another a Muslim Boy. It is Holi and all kids are ready to play Holi and the girl on her cycle, dares everyone to throw, balloons, water and colours on her and she like a good sport takes all the hits. She intentionally gets splashed and once the colours finish, she helps to drop her Muslim friend to the mosque to offer namaaz in his clean clothes. While dropping him she says, we will play Holi once you have offered your prayers.
The ad was released and got rave reviews but the wait was not very long before we could see the negative comments coming in. There was a section of people who questioned why the little boy had to go out to offer his prayers as he could have done it at home too. Some said why could the girl not be Muslim and boy Hindu. Then there were people who said the ad was promoting “Hindu Phobia” whereas some thought it was promoting “love jihad”. People also objected to calling the Holi colours as stains (daag).
Personally, I was shocked to read these comments because I loved the innocent ad. Thankfully, it was heartening to see many people came forward and support the ad. This Holi ad brings out the true secular essence of India. We are known to be a secular country and it is festivals like Holi that bring us together. The ad shows two innocent kids who probably have not learned the Hindu Muslim divide in our country which the politicians have used to their benefit for decades. I would not like to teach my daughter that any community or religion is bad. It is the people who are good or bad and she should judge people by what they do and not by which religion they belong to.
The people who found the ad promoting jihad love is more of a threat to society than the international brand or the kids. We are a country with many religions and the beauty of the country lies in the harmony and the co-existence of all of them. We need ways to unite the nation, defeating the aim of those who are hell-bent on dividing us. The recent attacks in Kashmir have created a serious situation but I would blame a section of people and not a community.
The Quran does not teach anything wrong, like the way our Bhagavat Gita does not. There are negative and wrong people everywhere and what we need to do in this hour is to come together as one big positive force which wants good for the country, not at the cost of demeaning a caste. The Surf Excel Holi campaign reminds us that we are nice and warm people who have immense respect for each other and our culture. We do not need to teach our kids any barriers. Let them make their own relationships which do not depend on a Hindu Muslim divide.
Sometimes negative publicity works and there were many people who bought extra packets to prove the non-supporters wrong. As Vir Das tweeted, “To the Bhakts. You have no idea how much Surf your outrage helped sell…. Congrats You’re practically the new brand ambassadors.”
(You might want to read more about this in the blog post, Why Have We Become So Insensitive)
On 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 and spread #boycottsurfExcel? Why look for conspiracies everywhere??”
The sweet ad is a reflection of our country and how we would like to raise our children. It was far better than many of the deodorant or innerwear ads which make no sense at all. We have to stop being intolerant and judgmental and blow things out of proportion. Hashtags like #boycottsurfexcel etc. were not needed. All we need to do is enjoy the innocence and also try that we bring up our children in a similar way.
Enjoy the Surf Excel Holi Ad #ranglaayesang #hindumuslimharmony