Have you seen These 5 Controversial Celebrity Advertisements?

Celeb ads usually do well because of their recall value. But have you seen these 5 ads which caused huge controversy?

4 min read
Katrina Kaif’s Slice ad is the perfect example of suspension of disbelief on the viewer’s part. (Photo: <a href=""></a>)

We are a gullible nation. And advertisers obviously know this because they expect us to suspend all disbelief when we watch ads.

Of course, I totally buy that Katrina knows the value of her time and will give it to someone who deserves it while having an illicit affair with a mango on the side.

That Madhuri Dixit spends an inordinate amount of time tapping her teeth while not forgetting to start her day healthy by eating oats.

Farhan Akhtar and Hema Mailini, suspicious as it is, take a personal interest in the health of the water they drink.

Aamir Khan has been walking around recently deeply involved and moved by the delivery of deals.

Celebrities are favourites with brands because of the recall they create. Plus, a pretty and known face doesn’t hurt. But not all is hunky dory in brand land. Here are a few that didn’t quite go the way the brand or the celebrity had planned.

1. Dhoni and Mysore Sandal Soap

(Courtesy: <a href="">Molly Steenson’s Flickr Page</a>)
(Courtesy: Molly Steenson’s Flickr Page)

In 2006, Karnataka Soaps & Detergents Limited manufacturers of Mysore Sandal Soap signed on Mahendra Singh Dhoni for an endorsement deal. How they thought his cricketing skills were transferable to this heritage brand is anybody’s guess. It was a coup of sorts to get the man himself on board and the money involved was big.

The deal wasn’t all bubbles and suds though. The brand alleged the cricketer didn’t dedicate the required hours for the promotional work. The contract was terminated in December 2007.


2. Rajesh Khanna and Havells Fans

A screengrab from the Havells’ television commercial&nbsp;featuring Rajesh Khanna. (Courtesy: <a href="">Havells Youtube Page</a>)
A screengrab from the Havells’ television commercial featuring Rajesh Khanna. (Courtesy: Havells Youtube Page)

A much-loved superstar, Rajesh Khanna, appeared in a commercial for Havells Fans in 2012. While this isn’t controversial in itself, the ad drew a lot of flak. The yesteryear actor looked dramatically different — gaunt and weak — a far cry from the boyish charm of his earlier days.

The ad featured him talking to a room full of fans, the kinds that give air. This completely unimaginative use of a pun ruffled a few feathers in the film industry and the advertising one. Mostly, the agency was pulled up for portraying an aging actor in such terrible light.


3. Madhuri Dixit and Maharashtra Tourism

Madhuri Dixit in <i>Devdas</i>. (Photo:&nbsp;A screengrab from the film)
Madhuri Dixit in Devdas. (Photo: A screengrab from the film)

We know that as soon as you see Amitabh on screen egging you on to visit Gujarat, you simply pack your bags and hop onto to the next thing on wheels headed that way.

That was perhaps what the Maharashtra Tourism was hoping to achieve by signing on Madhuri Dixit. With her being Maharashtrian, they expected this to be easy. However, Madhuri quoted a price Maharashtra Tourism wasn’t willing to give her. Several ministers took potshots at the dancing diva on Twitter but people from the industry came out in support for her that put this controversy to rest pretty quickly.


4. Pooja Bedi and Kamasutra Condoms

Pooja Bedi in a KS television commercial. (Photo: Screengrab of the ad)
Pooja Bedi in a KS television commercial. (Photo: Screengrab of the ad)

Pooja Bedi caused quite a stir when she showered. Especially in this rather explicit ad for Kamasutra Condoms.

Pooja Bedi was quite the star in the 90s when this brand was launched and the ad features her having some wet and wild fun in the shower with her co-star Marc Robinson. Sensual and way ahead of its time, the ad courted controversy for its explicit content and very suggestive movements. It was quickly banned from being shown on air.


5. Gabbar Singh and Britannia Biscuits

The Gabbar Britannia biscuits television commercial featuring Amjad Khan. (Photo: Screengrab from the ad)
The Gabbar Britannia biscuits television commercial featuring Amjad Khan. (Photo: Screengrab from the ad)

While this endorsement isn’t exactly controversial, it certainly is one of a kind. Most brands take on a star to reach out to their fans.

When Sholay came out, it didn’t just set the cash registers ringing for the leads. Turns out, even the villain was well loved. So much so that Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) endorsed Glucose D, a brand by Britannia. The print ad has the line ‘Gabbar ki Asli Pasand’ and featured an amused Gabbar Singh clutching a packet of Glucose D biscuits. Because what kind of person doesn’t want to immediately gobble up biscuits that a dacoit loves?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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