A controversial commercial for an Indian cologne brand was taken off the air after it received a massive international wave of criticism over promoting rape culture.
The commercial shows a gaggle of men hovering around a woman in a store, saying, "We're four and there's only one. Who will take the shot?"
She turns around, alarmed, only to find that they were speaking about a cologne by the name of Shot sitting beside her on the shelf.
Why is India the rape capital of the world and most unsafe country for a woman! An advert romanticizing gang rape. pic.twitter.com/jD6K3CjJeQ— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) June 4, 2022
This faced mass criticism from some of the biggest Bollywood stars for using a sexist and outdated narrative of objectifying a woman and even seemingly threatening her with sexual assault.
Famed Indian movie star Richa Chadha called the commercial "filth", saying, "To make an ad, a brand goes through several layers of decision making. Creatives, script, agency, client, casting.
"DOES EVERYONE THINK RAPE IS A JOKE?" she continued in her now-viral tweet. "This brand, the agency that made this ad need to be sued for the filth they're serving."
This ad is not an accident. To make an ad, a brand goes through several layers of decision making. Creatives, script, agency, client, casting… DOES EVERYONE THINK RAPE IS A JOKE? Revelatory! This brand, the agency that made this ad need to be sued for the filth they’re serving. https://t.co/M3YjbljAYN— RichaChadha (@RichaChadha) June 4, 2022
Internationally acclaimed film star Priyanka Chopra also expressed outrage at the advertisement.
"Shameful and disgusting," she tweeted. "How many levels of clearances did it take for this commercial to be green lit. How many people thought this was ok? I’m so glad that it was called out and now the ministry has taken it down."
Shameful and disgusting. How many levels of clearances did it take for this commercial to be green lit. How many people thought this was ok? I’m so glad that it was called out and now the ministry has taken it down. Appalling!— PRIYANKA (@priyankachopra) June 4, 2022
Indeed, the commercial was taken off the air, though the company did not take kindly to the wave of backlash. In a statement released after the advertisement was taken down, the cologne company claimed that they were not promoting rape culture, and that the commercial was "wrongly perceived" by those who believed so.
"We, the brand Layer'r SHOT would like to inform one and all that only after due and mandatory approvals, we have aired the advertisements, wherein, we never intended to hurt anyone's sentiments or feelings or outrage any women's modesty or promote any sort of culture, as wrongly perceived by some," the statement read.
They nevertheless apologized for airing the tasteless advertisement.