Surf Excel, the detergent brand which is known for its heartwarming ‘daag acche hai’ ads, is now facing criticism over a new advertisement ahead of the Hindu festival of colours – Holi. Recently, the brand aired its advertisement set around Hindu-Muslim harmony, but many appeared divided over concept.
Soon after the ad was shared on the HUL Twitter handle, people objected to it by saying it hurt sentiments of Hindus and portrayed the festival in bad light.
Surf Excel’s minute-long Holi ad ‘Rang Laaye Sang’ (colours bring people together) features two kids, a young Hindu girl and a Muslim boy. The girl dressed in white, rides on a bicycle along and challenges neighbourhood kids to splash her with Holi colours. It is later revealed that it was in order to protect her Muslim friend who had to go to a nearby mosque for prayers. However, the parting note by the girl ends with a heartwarming “baad me rang padhega (will colour you later!)”.
“Apnepan ke rang se auron ko rangne main daag lag jaaye, toh daag acche hain (Stains that come as a part of a good deed are good stains)”, the ad ends with Surf Excel’s classic tagline. Released on February 27, the advertisement had garnered over 8.5 million views and 28k likes on YouTube at the time of filing this report.
Watch Surf Excel Holi ad here
While Unilever who owns Surf Excel, attempted to promote religious harmony with the advertisement, not many appreciated the sentiment. Many said it was Hindu phobic, promoting “love jihad” and some even said that it wants to showcase that the Muslim prayer namaz is more important than Hindu festival, Holi.
Twitter was filled with tweets slamming the ad with the hashtag #boycottSurfexcel.
A tweet read, “#boycottSurfexcel because you also know that the add is humiliating Hinduism. And promoting love jehad. Gender selection and talking holi colour as “daag” is not acceptable by Hindu because it is done intentionally. Gender selection could have been reverse also.”
Another Twitter user wrote, “#BoycottSurfExcel use made in india, make in india…. Surf Excel promotes love jihad in india, upon the Hinduism.”
“Canceled my order, cited Hindu phobia as the main reason!” Another wrote.
— AtmarathiH (@aarthaH) March 9, 2019
Payal Rohatgi wrote on her official Twitter handle, “To @HUL_News, #Masjid is not required to offer Namaz as per Quran so this Holi read Namaz at home. No need to step out. Regarding #lovejihad propoganda start making reverse advertisement now. Lets see their tolerance when a burqa clad girl is playing holi ???? #BoycottSurfExcel.”
To @HUL_News, #Masjid is not required to offer Namaz as per Quran so this Holi read Namaz at home. No need to step out. Regarding #lovejihad propoganda start making reverse advertisement now. Lets see their tolerance when a burqa clad girl is playing holi ???? #BoycottSurfExcel pic.twitter.com/sMjOOFl8jI
— PAYAL ROHATGI & Team (@Payal_Rohatgi) March 9, 2019
— Sʜᴇᴋʜᴀʀ Cʜᴀʜᴀʟ (#NamoAgain)™ (@shekharchahal) March 9, 2019
However, there were some who came in support of the ad.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam tweeted, “He who objects this ad by Surf Excel is nothing but against the idea of India. Hats-off who created this beautiful film. #JaiHind.”
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) March 10, 2019
Actress Swara Bhasker wrote, “Search #BoycottSurfExcel hashtag and witness #TheCultOfStupidity in action. I hope @HUL_News will have the conviction to stand by their advertisement aimed at promoting communal harmony & not be cowed down by hate mongers.”
Search #BoycottSurfExcel hashtag and witness #TheCultOfStupidity in action. I hope @HUL_News will have the conviction to stand by their advertisement aimed at promoting communal harmony & not be cowed down by hate mongers.
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) March 9, 2019
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti also welcomed the advertisement promoting Hindu-Muslim harmony and slammed what she referred to as “bhakts” for criticizing the ad’s theme.
I have a better suggestion. Bhakts should be washed properly with Surf Excel. Kyunki Surf ki dhulai daag ko karain saaf. https://t.co/YiYrW4AM2j
— Mehbooba Mufti (@MehboobaMufti) March 10, 2019
She said, “I have a better suggestion. Bhakts should be washed properly with Surf Excel. Kyunki Surf ki dhulai daag ko karain saaf.”
To recall, Surf Excel also happens to be Unilever product whose Indian subsidiary Hindustan Unilever faced flak over its Red Label tea ad set in Kumbh mela. The advert showed a son contemplating abandoning his old father in the crowd, but returns to him after realising his mistake .