Deodorant ads slammed for ‘promoting rape culture’; govt takes action

“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and encouraging a rapist mentality amongst men. The advertisement is cringe-worthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, said.

A screengrab of Layer'r Shot ad. Photo: Twitter

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has ordered Twitter and YouTube to take down two controversial advertisements of a body spray company after massive outrage on social media.

The ads by Layer’r Shot feature four boys and a girl with the boys talking about taking a “shot”. The ads were aired on TV during the ongoing England-New Zealand cricket Test match on Sony Sports Network. They were also shared on Twitter and many users hit out at the company for promoting “rape culture”.

Also read: Over 12,000 complaints about misleading ads on TV received in 4 years: Govt

In one of the deodorant ads, a boy and a girl are sitting on a bed when four boys enter the room. One boy asks, “Shot mara lagta hai (Seems you took the shot)”. The boy sitting on the bed says, “Ha, mara na (Yes, I did)”. Then one of the boys rolls up his sleeves and says “Ab hamari bari (Now it is our turn)” and moves towards the girl. The girl appears to be shocked and uncomfortable on the series of events. Then, the boy picks up a body spray bottle named “Shot”.

In the other ad, four boys are standing behind a girl in a store and one of them asks, “Hum char aur ye sirf ek (We are four and this is just one)”. Another boy asks, “Toh, shot kaun lega (Who will take the shot)?”. The conversation scares the girl and she turns back as one of the boys picks up the “Shot” bottle from the shelf.

ASCI takes action

Taking a serious note of the issue, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) said the ad is in “serious breach” of the ASCI code and said it had asked the advertiser to suspend it pending an inquiry.

Also read: FSSAI slaps notice on McDonald’s for disparaging advertisements

“The ad is in serious breach of the ASCI Code and is against public interest. We have taken immediate action and notified the advertiser to suspend the ad, pending investigation,” ASCI tweeted.

I&B ministry’s letter

The I&B ministry has written to both YouTube and Twitter to not host the ads on their platforms as they are “detrimental” to the portrayal of women and also violate new IT rules.

“The above mentioned video is detrimental to the portrayal of women in the interest of decency or morality, and in violation of the rule 3(1)(b)(ii) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rule, 2021, which inter-alia provides that the users shall not host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information which is insulting or harassing on the basis of gender,” Kshitij Aggarwal, Assistant Director (Digital Media), I&B ministry, wrote while sharing the link of one of the ads.

Swati Maliwal, Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women, wrote to Delhi Police asking for an FIR to be registered. She also wrote to I&B minister Anurag Thakur.

“Fuming at cringe-worthy ads of the perfume ‘Shot’. They show toxic masculinity in its worst form and clearly promote gang rape culture! The company owners must be held accountable. Have issued notice to Delhi Police and written letter to I&B Minister seeking FIR and strong action,” Maliwal tweeted with the copies of the letters.

‘Promoting sexual violence against women’

“This advertisement is clearly promoting sexual violence against women and girls and encouraging a rapist mentality amongst men. The advertisement is cringe-worthy and should not be allowed to be played on mass media,” she wrote to Thakur.

“I request you to kindly urgently act in the matter. These advertisements need to be taken off air without any further delay. Also, robust systems should be built to ensure certain check and balances to make sure that such filthy advertisements that promote rape culture are never played again on mass media,” she added.

Maliwal called on the minister to impose a heavy fine on the company. “One of the ways to ensure that companies refrain from playing such dirty tactics for cheap publicity would be to impose heavy penalty on this particular company for its anti-women advertisement. I am of the view that this step of the Government will create a strong deterrence and discourage other companies from creating similar cringe-worthy misogynistic advertisements.”