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Neo Sports’ campaign for India-West Indies series termed ‘racist’

25-January-2007
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Neo Sports’ campaign for India-West Indies series termed ‘racist’

There seems to be no let-up in the controversies facing the ongoing India-West Indies cricket series. Barely had the dust settled in the telecast row between Nimbus and DD, a campaign to promote the series – ‘It’s tough to be West Indian in India’ – is now being slammed as ‘offensive’ and ‘racist’. The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has received two complaints in this regard.

As per the complaints, the advertisement shows West Indians in a variety of situations in India being mistreated by Indian people. The ads are tag-lined ‘It’s tough being a West-Indian in India’. According to the complaints, the advertisement shown was offensive and showed that the person was racist enough towards the West Indian to jump out of a boat in one situation.

Just prior to this, a section of the media also published a story stating that while some in the creative industry saw this campaign as racist, many others, including O&M’s Piyush Pandey thought it was absurd to think so.

Incidentally, the creative agency behind the campaign is O&M.

Speaking on these reactions, Shashi Kalathil, CEO, Neo Sports, said, “I cannot understand why anyone would think so. If you take out the West Indian and put a British or Australian on the advertisement, it would fit perfectly. This is just capturing the mood of the country when cricket is taking place.”

Kalathil further asked as to why the complaint should come about now when the ad had been on-air for over two weeks and nearly 2,000 spots had already been aired. He said, “This has come to us as an utter surprise. The younger crowd has reacted very positively to the ad, it is a fun ad. I’m amazed that anyone could draw any such conclusion.”

He further said, “I have no defence to offer other than making one simple point – if you replace the protagonist with an English man or Australia, it would still be the same thing – when it is so replaceable, how you can call it racist?”

When asked as to what would be the course of action post the ASCI decision on the matter, Kalathil said, “I can just hope that better sense will prevail with the authorities on this.”

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