Kent RO, one of India's largest water purifier brands, on Wednesday apologised and withdrew an advertisement for an 'Atta & Bread Maker' after it received massive backlash for being "classist" and "misogynist".
The Noida-based firm's advertisement for its new product, which featured Bollywood superstar and Bharatiya Janata Party MP Hema Malini and her daughter Esha Deol, cautioned against a housemaid kneading flour to make dough, claiming that "her hands might be infected", and instead suggested using the company's product for the same purpose.
The advertisement didn't go down well with many on the social media who accused the brand of being "classist". Some slammed Kent suggesting that the brand should first "purify their own thoughts"
while others called the ad blatant dehumanisation of the domestic help.
While a few called it "revolting", some even advocated boycotting Kent products.
Some even called out actress-turned-politician Hema Malini, who is the brand ambassador for Kent. "Such pathetic classist ad by Kent. Bunch of hateful morons promoted by Hema Malini," one
Another said the ad discriminated on gender. "Kent is infected by some impure hearts and unhealthy minds," another response read.
"This is insulting to the maids," another Twitterati said.
Mahesh Gupta, chairman and managing director of Kent RO Systems, issued an official apology for "hurting sentiments".
"Our recent advertisement of Kent Atta & Bread Maker on social media was unintentional, badly communicated, and was wrong. And therefore, it was immediately withdrawn. We are extremely sorry for this incident and want to apologise to everyone, especially the people whose sentiments were hurt," read the apology.
The advertisement is contrary to the beliefs and professional standards of Kent, he added.
"We will investigate how our advertisement standards were compromised and we will further take corrective and preventive action so that such incidents are not repeated in future," Gupta said adding that "we support and respect all sections of the society and apologise for the mistake".
Kent is one of the leading players in the RO Water Purifier category and has expanded to several product categories such as air purifiers, water softeners, cooking appliances, and vacuum cleaners.