Reliance Retail posts Holi ad showing battered women, retracts after criticism

What is the first thing which comes into your mind when you think of Holi? Colors, laughing children playing with pichkaris…maybe fear of group celebrations this time because of Coronavirus? But for ‘creative’ minds in our ad industry, Holi reminds them of ‘oppression of women in Hindu society’.

Today morning Reliance Smart (online grocery ordering service) through their twitter handle @SMARTStore_IN shared a video ad showing battered women of various age groups – with bruises on face, back, shoulder, neck – gathering together when a smiling young girl enters with colours. The voiceover says – “This Holi, resolve to choose colours of joy, do away with the black and other dark colours that you have suffered all along…do it for the future.”

As soon as people started criticising the campaign, the tweet was deleted.

As per Exchange4media.com, on 30 Oct 2019, Reliance Fresh awarded its creative and digital mandate to Leo Burnett India and Indigo Consulting – both part of the Publicis Groupe. Key executives listed are –

  • Damodar Mall, Chief Executive Officer – Grocery Retail
  • Dheeraj Sinha, MD – India & Chief Strategy Officer, South Asia, Leo Burnett
  • Rakesh Hinduja, COO West, Leo Burnett
  • Rajesh Ghatge, CEO, Indigo Consulting

In the jekyll and hyde game that is played with gullible Hindus, this Holi season, Reliance Market has also released another video ad which actually does celebrate Holi as a joyous occasion – albeit here too they couldn’t resist the urge for some social messaging – at one point, the ad shows a man looking to molest a woman on pretext of applying colours, who is deterred by a stern look from a cop.

Last year, around Ganesh Chaturthi, this is what the company had put out, an effort to ‘educate and sensitise consumers about everything they do and its impact.’

Yes indeed, Ganesh Chaturthi is the apt occasion to remind Hindus about pollution, water preservation, garbage disposal and all the myriad ills ailing the planet. “The campaign takes a fresh approach with the modern day aarti, which is done by kids to draw everyone’s attention,” Rajdeepak Das, MD India and chief creative officer, Leo Burnett South Asia, explained to the unwashed masses.

For the 2018 season, Oglivy Mumbai launched a #HoliNotHooliganism campaign for Reliance General Insurance. The intent – “focus attention on a largely ignored reality surrounding Holi festivities.”

They even created a campaign website: www.HoliNotHooliganism.com (now decommissioned)!

Let’s listen to what the ad industry and corporate honchos had to say for the #HoliNotHooliganism created for an insurance firm –

“Burzin Mehta, Group Creative Director, Ogilvy Mumbai, said, “When students are hurled with sperm-filled balloons and forced to celebrate the world’s most colourful festival indoors, there’s a serious problem. Which is why it is almost inevitable to expose what the festivities camouflage. And we’ve done that by taking generic Holi pictures and stripping the colour off them. What we were left with churned our insides. But it is the unfortunate truth.”

Rakesh Jain, CEO of Reliance General Insurance – the brand behind the campaign, added, “Holi is one of India’s most beautiful festivals because it upholds the spirit of liberation. But for a few it has turned into an excuse to harass women that destroy the beautiful festival with a horrifying experience for women. This campaign is our small contribution to create awareness and is one of the many initiatives we do as a corporate towards Women’s safety.

So this Burzin Mehta has completely swallowed the fake news peddled by Sagarika Ghose and others about sperm-filled balloons being hurled on Delhi’s LSR college students. Some random social media posts is all it takes to get Hinduphobes salivating about bashing Hindus. “Expose what festivities camouflage” – this phrase provides a profound insight into how people like Burzin Mehta view Hindu festivities, for them there is a sinister agenda associated with all Hindu festivals.

Others like Rajesh Jain believe Holi ‘upholds the spirit of liberation’. Liberation? From what? And here we Hindus thought Holi is a celebration of the devotion of Prahlad towards Bhagwan Vishnu, which helped him survive the plot by his own father Hiranyakashyap and aunt Holika to kill him.

One shudders to think what children growing up in ‘liberal’ households learn about their own culture and civilisation. The fight against such liberal ‘Hindus’ is going to be as, if not more, important as the fight against Islamists, evangelical missionaries, communists if Hindus are to survive with dignity into the next century.

Lecturing, moral policing and speaking down to Hindu society during festival season is par for the course for our ‘progressive’, Westernised ad-industry and the industry titans who employ them. And the irony is that all this moral grandstanding is coming from an ad industry teeming with sexual predators as #MeToo has shown, where exploitation of young interns and staffers at bacchanalian parties is the done thing, and from a corporate India whose moral fibre can be seen in the crony capitalism that has given rise to the massive NPA problem in our banks.

The entire ad industry and corporate India seems part of this “civlize Hindus” mission, following in the footsteps of the British colonial powers. Here are some examples we covered in the past-


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