An advertisement showing a young Hindu girl protecting her Muslim friend from Holi colours has triggered the right wing on social media.

BoycottSurfExcel trends on Twitter after Hindu-Muslim harmony ad draws flakScreenshot
Social Controversy Monday, March 11, 2019 - 13:31

An advertisement for a detergent brand has sparked criticism on social media. Through the weekend, Twitter timelines were filled with the hashtag #BoycottSurfExcel with several users claiming the ad goes against the Hindu religion.

Detergent brand Surf Excel is known for its heart-warming advertisements. With its latest Holi special Rang Laaye Sang (colours that brings us together) campaign, the brand released an advertisement created around a theme of Hindu-Muslim unity.

The one-minute ad shows a young girl, dressed in white, cycling through a colony which is celebrating Holi. Kids are armed with balloons and are splashing everyone who passes with balloons and coloured water. The girl stops and chooses to let her clothes get stained so that her Muslim friend, who is dressed in sparkly white, can go to the mosque to pray without being splashed with colours.

The ad ends with the Surf Excel’s classic tagline, ‘Daag acche hain (stains are good).’

But many on Twitter have taken offence. Some have claimed that the ad is against Hindus, and gives more importance to namaz than the festival of Holi. Some also claim that it promotes ‘love jihad.’

“#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,” a user wrote on Twitter.

Some even said that it was an insult to Muslims, claiming that “it is directly saying that a Muslim male child needs help of a Hindu girl for doing his prayer (sic).”

After the ad drew flak, actor Siddharth stated that religion should be kept out of commercial ads.

As the hashtag trended on top of Twitter charts, many also spoke in favour of the advertisement, saying that it conveys a beautiful message of harmony and unity, and that the negative reaction was absurd. Bollywood actors, some politicians and other celebrities also tweeted that the advertisement should be welcomed, not shunned.

This is not the first time Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has faced flak for its advertisements. A week ago, #BoycottHULProducts trended on Twitter after it put up an ad stating that many elderly citizens are abandoned by their families at the Kumbh Mela. “Kumbh Mela is a place where old people get abandoned, isn’t it sad that we do not care for our elders? Red Label encourages us to hold the hands of those who made us who we are,” the ad had stated. The ad drew massive criticism, with social media users saying that the Kumbh was an auspicious event for the Hindus and the ad insulted the Hindu religion. The ad was later pulled down by HUL.

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