Race slur boomerangs with cricket ads on TV | india | Hindustan Times
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Race slur boomerangs with cricket ads on TV

THESE TWO promotional advertisements on Neo Sports channel, for the ongoing India-West Indies cricket series, may be doing more than just promoting the channel and the game.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2007 11:21 IST

A West Indian, eating at a dhaba, finds the food too hot and spicy. He is desperate for water but nobody gives him any. Even the tap he sprints to runs dry.

Punchline: It’s tough being a West Indian in India.
A West Indian couple is cosying up on a boat ride. The Indian boatman looks at them angrily and jumps into the water, leaving them stranded.

Punchline: It’s tough being a West Indian in India.
THESE TWO promotional advertisements on Neo Sports channel, for the ongoing India-West Indies cricket series, may be doing more than just promoting the channel and the game.

A section of the advertising community and viewers believe they are encouraging racism. They say the promos give the impression that the Indians in the ads were actually reacting to the West Indians’ skin colour.

The promos come at a time when Indians are still to come to terms with the racist behaviour towards actress Shilpa Shetty (by Jade Goody and others) on the TV reality show Celebrity Big Brother. And they raise a question: are Indians willing to laugh off such a sensitive issue?

Ad guru and theatre personality Alyque Padamsee told HT "the ads were disgusting”. “They certainly encourage racism. It is the ultimate in gadhagiri(idiocy). Just because I love my country’s cricket team does not mean I should hate every West Indian,” he said.

Santosh Sood, brand advisor and former chief strategy officer with Rediffusion DY&R, agreed with Padamsee. He said the creative team which conceived the advertisments, should have been more sensitive. “If you ask me I would not have done it. But collectively, people enjoy a good laugh at others' expense. It bolsters their collective ego.”

Piyush Pandey, the creative director of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), the advertising agency that made the promotional films, said there was no racism in the ads. “People who think the ads are racist can go take a *****. I enjoyed them tremendously,” Pandey said.

Nimbus Communications Chairman Harish Thawani, who owns Neo Sports, said: “We are not going to pull any advertising off the air just because somebody has a problem with it.”

“If anybody finds the ads offensive he can approach the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI). We will respect the ASCI verdict,” said Thawani.

ASCI secretary general Gualbert I. Pereira said no complaints had been received against the advertisements so far.