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Schbang issues second apology over Poonam Pandey's staged death stunt; acknowledges ASCI's support

Harshil Karia, founder, Schbang also issued an apology and stated, "This incident has taught me a valuable lesson: true change requires us not to break down walls, but to build gates—gates of understanding, empathy, and respect for all."

Schbang, the creative agency responsible for orchestrating the staged death stunt involving Poonam Pandey to raise awareness for cervical cancer, has issued a second apology across its social media platforms.

The digital marketing agency, Schbang, released a second statement, acknowledging that their initial apology inadvertently served as a justification for the incident.

In their previous communication, the agency had highlighted that Poonam Pandey's stunt had resulted in making 'cervical cancer' and related terms the most searched topics on Google, emphasizing the unprecedented visibility the cause received.

However, this statement garnered significant backlash. The agency partnership also got terminated with the Merck affiliate.

In response, Schbang took to Instagram for a second apology, expressing remorse to everyone affected or unaffected by the campaign, including their team, partners, friends, families, and aspiring talent in the advertising industry. The post stated, "We are deeply sorry. We acknowledge that the end does not justify the means."

Furthermore, the agency expressed gratitude towards The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for assisting them in rectifying their mistakes and establishing a robust foundation for auditing future campaign ideas.

afaqs! reached out to Akshay Gurnani, co-founder and CEO of Schbang, and Manisha Kapoor, CEO of ASCI. As of the report's publication, we await the response from Akshay Gurnani. The article will be updated upon receiving his response.

Kapoor explains the role and stated, "ASCI had written to the various parties involved in this campaign to modify or withdraw the ads. In our discussion with them, we informed them of our services whereby scripts and storyboards can be sent to ASCI before campaign production to check for any potential violations of the ASCI Code. They are in the process of taking an ASCI membership, and we endeavour to support our members and the industry to “get it right”.

ASCI’s Ad advisory service is a confidential and quick check by a expert panel to ensure that ads released are honest, decent, safe and fair.

Harshil Karia, founder of Schbang, also issued an apology on LinkedIn. He wrote, "To those we've upset or hurt, I stand before you with a humility born from this mistake. Saying 'I'm sorry' hardly captures the dept of my regret, but I offer it to you sincerely, hoping it marks beginning of our amends."

Earlier this month, Schbang, in collaboration with Hauterfly (Fork Media), faced severe criticism for staging Poonam Pandey's death as part of a cervical cancer initiative aimed at promoting awareness among women regarding the HPV vaccine.

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