Water purifier Kent RO‘s new product – Kent atta maker now seems to bite dust due to their recent advertisement of the same, full of biases and suggesting class discrimination which Twitter was quick to backlash. Insensitive towards how the domestic helpers and others under the poverty line have been the hardest hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kent’s advertisement asked – “Are you allowing your maid to kneed atta dough by hand?” and offered, “Her hands may be infected.” Also Read - Mohena Kumari Singh Opens up on Her Battle With COVID-19, Says 'It Was More of Mental Pressure Than Physical'
Sharing these slides on Instagram, Kent also shared the final slide of the advertisement featuring actor and BPJ MP from Mathura Hema Malini and her daughter Esha Deol, who have been associated with the brand since 2005. The advertisement suggested, “Choose KENT Atta & Bread Maker for hands-free kneeding of dough. Let automation take care of hygiene this time.” Also Read - Unlock 2 in Jammu and Kashmir: Shopping Malls Can Reopen, Movement of Individuals For Non-essential Activities Remains Prohibited
According to The Quint, Sree Jagruti Samiti, an organisation which works for the rights of domestic workers, has called for a boycott of Kent products and head of the organisation, Geeta Menon, stated, “Shamelessly endorsed by Hema Malini and Brahmanical purity!!! The Advertising council must force and punish the company, for the putrefying ad …on how Kent products to be bought, to save oneself from the unhygienic domestic workers’ hands! Call upon all human beings to boycott Kent products, withdrawal of ad immediately. In these times of vulnerability and safety of all, discrimination, prejudice, caste and communal are in the DNA of some of the privileged classes and companies We see it from homes, to relief work, to factories, to schools, to even hotels. Our union survey conversations reveal that the impact of COVID-19 has been tremendous! 80% of domestic workers told not to come, effectively keeping them out of work, out of reach for two months! 70% not paid April salaries, 50% of those above 50 years dismissed arbitrarily!!! Many employers have cited hygiene, bringing the virus, etc (sic).” Also Read - Soft Copies, 6 Feet Distance, Sanitisers: New Rules For Parliamentary Panel Meets
Drawing an instant flak from netizens for its discriminatory implications, the Twitter users too outraged against the brand. While one user wrote, “After ‘Kent ka shuddh pani’, here comes Kent’s ‘shuddh atta’. And its ‘shuddhta’ or purity is a slur on humanity. Time has come to #BoycottKent (sic)”, another tweeted, “Look at this classist #Kent Atta Maker Ad @dreamgirlhema ji – This is in ‘poorer’ taste than the ‘poor maid’ who you are snubbing (sic)” and yet another lashed, “I presume #Kent Atta maker doesn’t want my business. Not only is it unfair to service demographics by assuming all are unhygienic, also assumes me or my husband do not knead atta. A great product bites the dust cos the Ad agency/Product Manager couldn’t see beyond their biases (sic)”
Check out Twitter’s reaction on the advertisement here:
Quick to pull it down, Kent soon issued an apology. They tweeted, “Please accept our sincere apologies for having published the Ad of Kent Atta & Bread Maker. It was unintentional but wrongly communicated and it has been withdrawn. We support and respect all sections of the society. Mahesh Gupta, Chairman” sic.
At the heels of the same, Hema Malini and Esha Deol dissociated themselves from the advertisement and issued a public statement on Twitter that read, “Views expressed by the recent advertisement of Kent Atta by @KentROSystems do not resonate with my values and are inappropriate, The Chairman has already tendered a public apology for the mistake.I hereby wish to put on record that I respect and stand by all sections of society.” sic
Even the Imarti Immersive Marketing, the digital agency behind a majority of Kent RO’s messaging, wiped its hands from having any participation in the notorious advertisement.
We are living in the 21st century yet insensitive promotions like these only show that we are still living in the dark ages and that the virus in not outside but in our hearts and brains!