Advertisements are often a reflection of life which mirror our generation's voice and school of thought. However, if this new Kalyan Jewellers ad featuring Aishwarya Rai is anything to go by, we are probably moving back in time.
This ad for Kalyan Jewellers recently appeared in The Hindu featuring a bejeweled and royal-looking Aishwarya Rai Bachhan with a rather skinny, dark-coloured child holding a parasol over her head.
Source : IANS
The actress, who is also the UNAIDS goodwill ambassador, received flak for being a part of the campaign promoting child labour. Many child right activists demanded an apology in an open letter, first published on Scroll.
The activists wrote:
" We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product. While advertisers routinely use fantasy images to sell products, they must surely desist from using images that condone, legitimise, normalise, or build desirable fantasy around slavery or servitude of any kind, including child slavery or child servitude."
"Further, the extremely fair colour of your skin (as projected in the advertisement) contrasted with the black skin of the slave-boy is obviously a deliberate "creative" juxtaposition by the advertising agency, and insidiously racist. The genealogy of this image can be traced back to 17th and 18th century colonial European portraits of white aristocracy, depicting women being waited upon by their black "servants". We have copied some examples of these racist portraits below."
"As an influential member of the Indian film industry and a popular star with a large fan following, we trust that you wish to use your image in a manner that promotes progressive thought and action, and would not knowingly promote regressive images that are racist and go against child rights. We, therefore, urge you to do the right thing – cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped. We also request that you, as a National Brand Ambassador for Kalyan Jewellers, circulate a considered public retraction, and thereby provide a positive example to others to learn from your reflection and reasoning for withdrawing from such an advertisement."
Neither the advertising agency Push, nor the jewellery brand have responded to the reactions.
Aishwarya Rai's publicist Archana Sadanand just issued a statement saying that Aishwarya's shot was taken individually and it's final layout was entirely the prerogative of the brand's creative team.