Leading Indian jewellery brand Tanishq has been in the eye of a storm for the last several days after it released an advertisement that irked right-wing conservatives in the country.
The brand, owned by the 100-year-old Tata Group, had to take down a 40-second ad—that showed a Hindu girl married into a Muslim family—under pressure, as #boycottTanishq trended on social media for nearly two days.
This is just the latest in a series of ads that have offended Hindu conservatives in recent years.
The ad, released on Oct. 12, showed a Muslim family organising a baby shower for their pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law as per her family’s traditions. The depiction of interfaith marriage did not go down well with many, and some went as far as to threaten to vandalise Tanishq outlets.
Please @TanishqJewelry also show an ad where a muslim woman celebrates eid with her hindu in-laws.
— Maddy (@jai_in_) October 12, 2020
Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut, a vocal right-wing supporter, claimed that the ad glorified “love jihad and sexism.”
As Hindus we need to be absolutely conscious of what these creative terrorists are injecting in to our subconscious, we must scrutinise, debate and evaluate what is the outcome of any perception that is fed to us, this is the only way to save our civilisation #tanishq
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) October 13, 2020
In a statement on Oct. 13, Tanishq said, “We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners, and store staff.”
Experts believe this was a sensible response to the growing outrage.
“Brands love to err on the right side of things. When Tanishq got trolled, there were possibly just two ways to go about it. One would be idealism and the other could be pragmatism. Tanishq took the latter,” said Harish Bijoor, branding expert and founder of the eponymous market research firm Harish Bijoor Consults.
In March 2019, consumer goods major Hindustan Unilever drew social media ire for “defaming Hinduism” for a commercial around Kumbh Mela.
— Hindustan Unilever (@HUL_News) March 7, 2019
The company came under fire again in September last year when it irked people over an old commercial, which some believed promoted Islamophobia.
The ad showed a Hindu man being hesitant in buying an idol of the Hindu god Ganesha from a Muslim seller.
In May 2019, the e-commerce giant faced allegations of hurting Hindu sentiments and was forced to remove certain products, which had images of Hindu gods.
How many times you will hurt the sentiments of Hindus? Why do you do this every year, every time? Till when will this continue? Will it ever stop? pic.twitter.com/XuwlHHu4qY
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) May 16, 2019
In August last year, right-wing supporters called for the boycott of food delivery firm Zomato when a customer requested the app to change the executive assigned to bring his food because he was a Muslim.
Zomato’s CEO and founder Deepinder Goyal battled social media trolling by saying that his company, as well as food, did not discriminate on the basis of caste, creed, and religion. But his logic fell on deaf ears.
— Usha Choudhary (@ushachoudhry) August 1, 2019
In 2015, Hindu right-wing supporters attacked e-commerce firm Snapdeal after its then brand ambassador and Bollywood actor Amir Khan called out the growing religious intolerance in the country.
His comments were seen as an insult to the Narendra Modi government, which led the prime minister’s supporters to even downgraded Snapdeal’s app rating on Google Play Store.
In 2017, hairstylist Jawed Habib got caught in the controversy for his brand’s “Gods too visit JH salon” campaign.
A print advertisement for JH hair salon depicting Hindu Goddess Durga having a spa day has offended many right-wing Hindus.
— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) September 5, 2017
The opposition forced the stylist to issue an apology saying that he had only one religion, which is that of the scissors.
Sign up for the Quartz Daily Brief, our free daily newsletter with the world’s most important and interesting news.
More stories from Quartz: