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A Beverage, An Actor, A Controversy | Nawazuddin’s ‘Sprite’Controversy

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Advertisements are usually sparked with controversy when they seemingly portray things that are frowned upon in society. Advertising companies go to great lengths to get more people talking about their short, catchy videos. Once they find the right target audience, they go all in. If an issue of public interest is showcased, it garners interest. However, if it is deemed to be offensive, that is when people are outraged. 

A case was filed against Bollywood Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Coca-Cola CEO for a joke in the new Sprite Advertisement. The ‘Lunchbox’ actor was recently in the news over his relationship with his ex-wife, Aaliya Siddiqui, where she claimed that he and his family harassed her during the time of their divorce. She took to social media stating that she was suffering a lot.

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Nawazuddin Siddiqui in controversial Sprite advertisement. Credit: Business Today

A Calcutta High Court Lawyer, Dibyayan Banerji filed a police complaint alleging that the sentiments of the Bengali community were hurt by the Bengali version of the Ad, a rough translation read “If Bengalis do not get anything easily, they sleep hungry.” There is no problem with the original Hindi version of the advertisement, but the problem is with the Bengali dubbing of the ad, Banerji stated in the same complaint. Users are able to listen to a joke by scanning a QR code on the bottle. 

It labeled the community as lazy. There was outrage on social media and the ad was taken down. Sprite India apologized for it and said that it regretted the campaign and that the company respects the Bengali language. 

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The complaint does not want shallow acts and gimmicks to be promoted in the future. The beverage ad has been translated into various Indian languages, trying to localise the ad.  Advertising companies have to take into consideration that people may get offended if they see themselves or their community being portrayed in a bad light. 

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