"This is a clear [sic] irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales."
Controversy has arisen as a Sunny Leone condom advert appeared on billboards in Gujarat. Recommending Indians to practice safe sex and wear a condom during Navratri, many organisations are outraged by its message.
They have even requested for the advert’s removal, deeming it as an “irresponsible” marketing ploy.
The latest Sunny Leone condom advert appeared on billboards on 19th September 2017. Manforce, the company behind the advert, appeared to coincide their latest campaign with the festival of Navratri.
Beginning on 21st September 2017, it marks as one of Gujarat’s main religious festivals. Hence the advert’s message: “Aa Navratriye ramo, paraantu prem thi (Play this Navratri, but with love).”
Depicting the star on the billboard, Manforce aimed to raise awareness of contraception. Encouraging safe sex amongst Indians. However, it sparked angry reactions from many organisations.
The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) made a formal complaint against the Sunny Leone condom advert. They wrote a letter to Gujarat’s Minister of Consumer Affairs, demanding for the advert’s removal.
Not only do they want it banned, but CAIT has also requested action taken against both Manforce and their brand ambassador.
Accusing Manforce of hitting “an all-time low”, they said: “This is a clear [sic] irresponsible and immature attempt to boost sales by putting all our cultural value system at stake.”
A Marketing Ploy or Crucial Message?
One can argue that Manforce isn’t solely concerned about the sales of their condoms. While sales do increase during this period in Gujarat, the company want to encourage safer sex.
While more Indians are embracing condoms, misconceptions still persist. With these misguided ideas, young people may become intimate without using a condom. Increasing the chances of STIs and unplanned pregnancies.
Reports in the 90s showed an increase of abortions occurred after the festival. In 2000, former Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel had confessed that this increase was happening.
Recently, abortions have steadily decreased, with sales of condoms raising at the same time. Chairman of Gujarat State Chemists and Druggists, Jaswant Patel explained that the sales of condoms go up by 30% during Navratri.
He also added: “Most of the buyers are teenagers.”
Navaratri has long since been a celebration that provides plenty of opportunities for young people to meet. Getting to know each other and dance, it increases the likelihood of intimacy between them. Even a sex survey found that Gujarat became three times kinkier during the festival.
This phenomenon is nothing new. Yet the controversy suggests many still find the notion of the Sunny Leone condom advert offensive. Even on Twitter, some have spoken of their distaste for the billboards, with one user saying:
“I gurantee you [Sunny Leone] you will be punished soon for the condom advertisement which insulted the feeling of hindu religion. [sic]”
Even the CAIT made direct reference to the starlet in their complaint:
“Its brand ambassador Ms Sunny Leone is ample testimony of the fact that in the lust of earning huge money, these Brand Ambassadors can go to any level irrespective of pious and religious occasion of Navratri even. [sic]”
This would lead one to ask if the outrage is because it’s a Sunny Leone condom advert. Would we see the same anger if Amitabh Bachchan or Deepika Padukone featured instead?
Despite Sunny Leone’s tremendous popularity, some will still see the starlet as a porn actress. While she left the industry way back in 2002, it appears many Indians haven’t forgotten her past.
It seems overall, the advert creates a divide between many. While some would find it offensive and distasteful, others would see it as a way to promote safe sex.
Now let’s turn the question to you. Do you find the Sunny Leone condom advert offensive? Make sure you give your say in our poll below.