The ad portrays a pair of hands kneading dough, with a copy that seemingly suggests that a maid's hands could be unclean and 'impure'.
Kent RO Systems is in trouble over a digital ad published on Instagram. The product that was the subject of the ad was an automatic atta/dough kneader. The ad copy was written in the context of the coronavirus diseases spreading via germs on a person’s hand, however it has many social media users riled up. The ad portrays a pair of hands kneading dough and the ad copy reads – ‘Are you allowing your maid to knead atta dough with her hands?’ and the second post in the same ad’s copy reads ‘Her hands may be infected.’ What made users angry was the final picture in the post – text that read ‘Don’t compromise on health and purity’. In the last part of the post, we also see mother-daughter brand ambassador duo Hema Malini and Esha Deol endorsing the product.
Social media users pointed out that the ad had classist tones, the copy implying that a maid might be ‘impure’. The fact is, the coronavirus does not discriminate; neither the rich or the poor are safe from the disease. It spreads via contact with contaminated surfaces and some of the world’s most rich and powerful individuals have fallen sick because of COVID – 19. Most Indian households in cities have also asked their household help to take a leave or discontinue working at their homes altogether over concerns of the virus spreading - mainly because the help work at different houses and localities. In many housing societies, maids and household help are not allowed to enter, over fears that they may be carriers of the disease.
In response, Kent has released a statement, which owns up to its mistake and admits that the company was in the wrong. "Our recent advertisement of Kent Atta & dough maker on social media was unintentional, badly communicated and was wrong. And therefore, it was immediately withdrawn. We are extremely sorry for the incident and want to apologise to everyone, especially to the people whose sentiments were hurt," reads the statement.
The full statement is attached below.
Hema Malini, the brand ambassador took to Twitter to respond to clarify that the views expressed by the Kent ad does not resonate with her own belief system and that she respects all sections of society.