"Main pankha hoon.. bhale main chota pankha hoon
Apni hawa mei hoon palaa, apne dum par hoon khada
Nahi chahiye mujhko seedhi, arre main hoon aane waali peedhi.."
Executed by Mullen Lintas, the spot begins with a young girl choosing to fill a general category form instead of one for quota, much to the surprise of her father. The ad further proceeds to feature a civil servant who refuses to use her official vehicle for running a personal errand. The last sequence (and the controversial one) is a scene from a protest where books are being burned when a young man picks up a half-burnt book and is stopped by a protester. When asked who he is, he simply replies, "Main pankha hoon", the harbinger of change, metaphorically speaking.
R.I.P Freedom of Speech— Nitin Mahalwal (@nitinmahalwal) March 29, 2016
In this country only anti national like Kanhaiya Kumar gets Freedom of speech. I SUPPORT HAVELLS NEW AD
The ad campaign has received a mix reaction over social media. While some called it a bold and inspiring campaign, others found it casteist. Clearly, the negative comments toppled the positive ones.
Dear Havells, You Dropped Your Ad But Not Your Caste Bias https://t.co/VgZOcuwzaN— India Resists (@India_Resists) March 29, 2016
This Sick Anti-Reservation TV Ad by Havells Fans Betrays Deep-Seated Hatred For Dalits https://t.co/wdSc0UnJMW— Sreejith (@knsreejithnair) March 29, 2016
Havells adopted the 'Hawa Badlegi' proposition four years ago, executing campaigns which highlighted social and topical issues such as religion, inter-caste marriage, gender discrimination, politics, and the upliftment of women.
However, in the light of the recent Jat agitation, the campaign has attracted eye balls and was subjected to virtual backlash.
Is it offensive?
K V Sridhar, ad guru and chief creative officer, SapientNitro, thinks otherwise. For him, the ad is progressive and inspiring which features a confident young India refusing to take concessions and wanting to make it on their own merit. However, he agrees that the fate of the ad is sealed due to the controversial issue of reservation.
"Reservation has been a burning issue since the Mandal Commission, and ever since I was in school. The brand, I believe, has not taken a stand against the reservation issue but has highlighted the fact that the youth today have a choice - to avail concessions or make a mark on their own. It's sad that people find it offending and file complaints against it," he asserts.
Sridhar notes that Havells has stood for change in society. It has become a big brand because it has a voice. "I hope this incident should not dampen the spirit of the brand proposition of change," he says.
Sridhar goes back to the Havells campaign and believes that now that it has been withdrawn more people will see it online and the message will spread.
Saurabh Uboweja, CEO and chief brand strategist, Brands of Desire, shares Sridhar's opinion. According to him, Havells' choice of topic is strong and built up with powerful emotions.
"As a brand, it has positioned around 'change'. But, as a strategy, this campaign is entirely around polarising thoughts and building on a wave of progressive pluralistic thinking. I think Havells wants trouble, that's the way to create interest and conversations around the brand," he quips.
His only advice to brands taking up topical issues while creating campaigns is to stay away from mentioning specific organisations and sticking to sentiments.