"Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain, rangon mein rang mil jaate hain gile shikwe bhool ke doston, dushman bhi gale mil jaate hai (As the colours blend with each other, on the day of Holi everybody is happy. As the colours blend with each other, even enemies keep aside their differences and hug each other)", so goes the lyrics of one of the most iconic Hindi songs that celebrates the festival by acknowledging its spirit of togetherness.
Detergent brand Surf Excel, known for its heart-warming advertisements, recently tried to do something similar with its latest Holi special (colours that bring us together) campaign. Under this campaign, the brand released an advertisement created around the Hindu-Muslim unity theme and instantly faced flak for the concept.
#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.— मेरा भारत महान:वंदे मातरम् (@MBMRKDr) March 10, 2019
The one-minute-long ad features a young Hindu girl, dressed in a white t-shirt, who chooses to get stained in Holi colours in order to protect her young Muslim friend who has to go to the nearby mosque to pray.
The advertisement ends with its classic tagline: "Daag acche hain. Agar kuch achha karne mein daag lag jaaye toh daag achhe hain. (Stains that come as a part of a good deed are good stains)." With the advertisement, Hindustan Unilever, owner of Surf Excel, tries promoting religious harmony and bringing people together with the power of colours.
Proud to have been a part of the #SurfExcel Holi commercial. An amazing and a brave team behind this!— Vasan (@Vasan_Bala) March 10, 2019
Unfortunately to convey compassion, tolerance and love one needs to be brave these days.
Released on February 27, the video has already managed to gather around 7,737,800 views on YouTube.
On Twitter, however, the campaign has faced the wrath of users who feel that the ad is 'Hindu-phobic' and wants to showcase that Namaaz is more important than Holi. Twitter is filled with tweets criticising the ad under the hashtag boycott Surf Excel.
This is not the first time Hindustan Unilever (HUL) has faced flack for the plotline of their advertisement. Earlier this year, HUL Kumbh Mela advertisement had irked several Twitter users. In the ad, a son contemplates abandoning his aged father in the crowd, but soon realises his mistake and comes back to him. 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 a wrong light.