Controversial Indian ads

Indian advertisements have spanned the gamut of being funny, sensitive, intelligent and silly. But a few ads from the industry raised everybody’s eyebrows and made people uncomfortable. Here are a few of those that didn’t quite sit well with us.

Kalyan Jewellers

This advertisement featuring Aishwarya Rai for a jewellery brand caused a stir because it featured a dark-skinned child struggling to hold an umbrella over her.  This ad was considered racist and the makers of the ad had to finally issue an apology.

Controversial Kalyan Jewellers Ad


AMUL -Har Ghar, Amul Ghar


This was a digital ad launched by Amul.  The story line was about a dad bringing home a baby brother and removing all the dolls that the sister had lovingly decorated the crib with. The little girl is upset about this and the father then proceeds to teach the girl how to play  cricket so that she can play with her brother. This ad was looked down as reinforcing archaic stereotypes of boys and girls preferring only certain things to play with.



If Brand recall is all that advertisers are going for then this ad from Amul Macho attained its objective. It shows a woman washing her husband’s underwear in such a suggestive manner, that the ad was banned later on by the Information and Broadcasting ministry.However, the brand achieved mileage like never before reinforcing that sex sells!

Amul Macho Banned Ad


ZATAK- Deodorant

This ad with the tag line “Just Zatak her” caused a lot of furore as it portrays a woman ready to take off even her wedding ring because she caught a whiff of a man using the Zatak deodorant! Quite provocative! The feminists and the cultural mafia did not appreciate this humour and it was ultimately banned.


Durex Condoms

Condoms are always tricky to advertise in a country like India and when the ad turns out extra steamy like this one, the censor board is definitely going to jump in and ban it.  This Durex commercial shows a woman trying seduce a man in an elevator. He wakes up from his dream, grabs a condom from his bedside table and goes back to sleep hoping to get back to his dream, with a funny catch line of stay safe “even in your dreams”


Vogue Empower

To celebrate its seventh anniversary, Vogue India launched its Vogue Empower, Social awareness initiative focussing on women’s empowerment. The ad was about Deepika Padukone talking about the choices that a woman makes under the title “My Choice”. It was supposed to emphasise that a woman can choose to do whatever she wants to do.  However instead of being a hit, the ad actually was parodied a lot.


Motorola C550

This ad for the Motorola C550 phone almost could have had the tagline “Be a pervert”. The ad shows people taking inappropriate pictures easily with the Motorola phone.  Made in really poor taste, this ad was pulled off by the censors.


Ford Figo India

Ford Figo ran this print ad portraying women bound and gagged in the trunk of a car with the caption “Leave your worries behind”. It was supposed to refer to the spacious trunk of the Ford Figo. However, this ad which came out in 3 versions, featuring the caricatures of the Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, Paris Hilton and Michael Schumacher met with severe opposition . The ads were not perceived as humorous at all especially in the aftermath of the Nirbhaya incident and were pulled off with Ford issuing an apology for them.

Ford Figo Controversial Ad


Advertisements for products like condoms clearly push the limits by nature of the product itself and deodorant ads are becoming predictable with their sexual innuendo. Even though the Indian censor board is quick to clamp down on inappropriate content, Indian brands will try to score that extra mileage if possible because when it comes to advertising, no publicity is bad publicity!

Contributed by: Navina Anand

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