Zomato buckles to boycott trend, apologises & withdraws Hrithik ad

Mumbai: Taking offence seems to be the order of the day. So is calling out ads, movies, and what-have-yous for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. Zomato, the latest victim of the "boycott culture" pervading the country, apologised even as it withdrew its advert starring Bollywood actor Hrithik Roshan amid a controversy surrounding the ad that threatened to blow up.

The alleged ‘crime’ this time around was the use of the word ‘Mahakal’ in the online food aggregator’s advert. After two priests from Ujjain’s Mahakal temple demanded an apology from the brand for "offending Hindu sentiments", an MP minister too joined the fray on Sunday. State home minister Narottam Mishra directed police to investigate the matter so that action can be initiated against the "guilty."

In a bid to quell the matter, Zomato issued a statement on Sunday, clarifying its stand. It wrote: "We deeply respect the sentiments of the people of Ujjain, and the ad in question is no longer running. We offer our sincerest apologies, for the intent here was never to hurt anyone's beliefs and sentiments."

The creative in question that caused the latest controversy has Hrithik mouthing the dialogue, "Thali ka mann kia, Ujjain mein hai, toh Mahakal se manga Lia (Felt like having a Thali. We’re in Ujjain, so we ordered from Mahakal."

The Hrithik Roshan-starrer ad that ran in specific pin codes of Ujjain referenced ‘thalis’ at ‘Mahakal Restaurant’, and not the revered Shree Mahakaleshwar Temple, the brand further clarified in its statement, adding, "Mahakal Restaurant is one of our high-order-volume restaurant partners in Ujjain, and 'thali' is a recommended item on its menu."

According to reports, the priests said Mahakal Temple does not deliver any thali. Devotees are served prasad in the thali at a section of the temple, but there is no provision to deliver these thalis on demand, they asserted, demanding an apology from both the brand as well as the actor for hurting religious sentiments.

This sparked an online boycott campaign against the Foodtech app, with the hashtag #Boycott_Zomato trending on Twitter over the weekend.

The video is part of a pan-India campaign for which Zomato identified top local restaurants and their top dishes based on popularity in each city. The ad uses location data to personalise and localise these ads. Mahakal Restaurant (simplified as ‘Mahakal’ in the video) was one of the restaurants chosen for the campaign in Ujjain, stated the brand even as it pulled the ads off air.

from Indian Television Dot Com - The one-stop online source for the Indian cable, satellite, terrestrial, DTH television, business. Everything you wanted to know https://ift.tt/IVDG4Qs