The ad shows a young curly haired boy (presumably young Tendulkar) being slapped by his coach.
The latest ad for Paytm First games is being widely criticised on social media. The reason is that the ad portrays a young boy, (presumably) a young Sachin Tendulkar being slapped.
According to the series of events portrayed in the ads, he leaves his own training to cheer for at his seniors' cricket match. The coach slaps him, asking him if he wants to play in life, or if he wants to cheer for others.
The young boy is understandably hurt and angry, but returns to the same coach, answering that he wants to play in life. The latter half of the ad shows the young lad being taught Tendulkar's trademark high-elbow straight drive.
The shot cuts and we see Tendulkar himself playing the exact same shot in an ODI match with running commentary in the background. We see Tendulkar's face appear over the historical footage and he says, “It’s all about the choices you make”, as his finger hovers over the Paytm First Games' interface.
Commenting on the campaign, Sudhanshu Gupta, COO - Paytm First Games said, "Sachin is a true legend and an inspiration for millions across our country. With this brand film, we have shared one of the life-changing moments of Sachin's life wherein he was faced with a difficult choice. We are happy to see that our entire campaign has struck a chord with everyone. It is our humble endeavour to inspire people to make the right choices in life irrespective of how difficult they might seem."
According to Gupta, the theme of the ad fits well with fantasy sports game as well which requires users to have in-depth know-how and research of the game and players and make strategic choices while making their team."
At first, the ad was praised for portraying the young boy being taught Tendulkar's technique. Twitter influencer Apoorv Sood (@trendulkar) - who has over 1.2 million followers on the platform, tweeted his appreciation for the ad, calling it 'nicely done'.
However, other users took to the platform to express displeasure at the message being portrayed. Bollywood director Kunal Kohli tweeted that the ad was problematic and that there was nothing wrong in cheering for another team in the name of sportsmanship.
Others said it was downright abusive to slap a child, irrespective of the mistake they have made. Another user also said it normalised the act of slapping, which many see as inexcusable.
Responding to the situation, Paytm First Games Spokesperson said, "We have received an overwhelmingly positive response for our new campaign, with people across the country liking it and sharing on their social media handles. The theme of the campaign is about aiming for excellence and making the right choices. The series of events in the advertisements are an abridged version of an incident in the life of Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar. It is to encourage fellow Indians to aim at being the best. We truly believe in sportsman spirit and that is what we want to promote through this advertisement as well. We respect and embrace all the sentiments that this advertisement invokes."