Advertisements that stirred major controversies in India

Bold, beautiful but controversial


February 27, 2017

/ By / New Delhi

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Witty, creative, impactful and commercially viable as these advertisements might be, they have also stirred major controversies in India for being bold and garnered the attention of various organisations monitoring the morality of the nation.


Tuff Shoes Footwear ad


One of the most talked about till date, this is also perhaps the most controversial Indian commercial of all times. Featuring then models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre in literally the bare minimum, with nothing but shoes and an exotic python around them, the ad had obscenity cases filed against it and also saw the attention of wildlife protection activists. The 1995 ad had its hoardings off the streets in no time and the legal proceedings lasted for 14 years until the court set the accused of in 2009.

Stuck on you by Levis


Starring actress Kangana Ranaut clinging to a shirtless model, the 2008 ad campaign by denim biggie Levi Strauss had critics stuck on it! The campaign titled, ‘Stuck on You’ made a lot of noise for the bare skins.

Calida innerwear ad


Shot in 1998 for Swiss-based innerwear company Calida, this ad featuring Bollywood popular faces and then couple Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea circled controversies around it for being sexually provocative. It shows the actors in a playful yet intimate mood.

Ford Figo’s animated ad


Created by artists at one of Asia’s leading marketing communications agency, JWT’s Indian wing, this ad campaign made headlines for all wrong reasons. With illustrations of women gagged and tied in a car’s rear, the ad boosted the outcry surrounding women’s safety in the country and the increasing number of rapes.

Kalyan Jewellers ad


The advertisement shows an animated black coloured, bony child holding a red parasol over a fair toned Aishwarya Rai clad in an attire and jewellery indicating a royal stature. The ad that was pointed to be out and out ‘racist’, was withdrawn after much uproar from activists who even sent the former Miss Universe an open letter and called the image “extremely objectionable”. Although the actress said that she was not involved in the final layout of the ad which was only added in the post processing of images, she did receive much criticism. Later, the company issued an apology stating that advertisement was intended to portray “royalty, timeless beauty and elegance” and expressed deep regret for any inadvertent hurt caused.



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