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An advertisement by Titan Group’s Tanishq Jewellery featuring an interfaith married couple has received severe backlash on Twitter, with ‘#BoycottTanishq’. More than 17,000 people tweeted with the hashtag calling for a ban on the advertisement and a boycott of the jewellery brand.

For their recent campaign for Ekatvam By Tanishq, the jewellery brand released an advertisement that showed a Muslim family preparing a traditional Hindu baby shower for their pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law. The description of the video on YouTube read, “She is married into a family that loves her like their own child. Only for her, they go out of their way to celebrate an occasion that they usually don’t. A beautiful confluence of two different religions, traditions, cultures.”

But the ad had mixed reactions online. While one faction thought it was a beautiful example of India’s religious harmony, others criticised it on social media and said it “promoted love jihad” and made #BoycottTanishq trend online, claiming it doesn’t show the reality of interfaith marriages. The video has got more dislikes than likes on YouTube, with more than 2,000 people disliking the video and only 545 people liking it. The comments section has been disabled.

In an official statement, the Tanishq spokesperson said, “We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff.”

“The idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective,” a company spokesperson said.

Amid the controversy, shares of Titan Company Limited, which owns the Tanishq brand, fell 2.18% or ₹27.35 per share on the BSE, to close at ₹1,229.75 per share. The company made the YouTube link to the video private Monday evening, making it unavailable to people. By Tuesday morning, the advertisement was no longer visible on its YouTube page.

Responding to the backlash the jewellery brand faced, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said, “So Hindutva bigots have called for a boycott of @TanishqJewelry for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad. If Hindu-Muslim “ekatvam” irks them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world — India?”

Likewise, author Shobhaa De had said, “Good for you @TanishqJewelry. If only we had more ads like this sensitive and brilliant one promoting love between different communities, India would be a far better place for all. Shame on trolls #downwithbigotry.”

Agreeing to Ms. De’s tweet the RPG Group’s Harsh Goenka had tweeted, “What a lovely ad is being trolled. What’s happening to us?”

Author Chetan Bhagat also tweeted, “As a TATA group company, expected #Tanishq to be fairer and braver. If you have done nothing wrong, if you have shown something beautiful about our country, don’t get bullied. Be Indian. Be strong.”

Former Chief Operating Officer (CEO) of Viacom and now managing director of House of Cheer Networks Raj Nayak expressed his disappointment at Tanishq for withdrawing the ad and said, “This is really sad! How can a brand as strong as Tanishq from the House of Tata’s chicken out based on trolls?”

The country's top advertising bodies have said in their statements, showing solidarity with the jewellery brand that had to withdraw the commercial because of trolling on social media. "Such baseless and irrelevant attack on creative expression is extremely concerning," The Advertising Club said in a statement.

"The Advertising Club on behalf of the Indian Media and Advertising industry strongly condemns the threatening and targeting of Tanishq and its employees in regards to their latest advertisement on the new jewellery line," it added.

In the past, a Surf excel advertisement had also received backlash after it sought to promote its brand showing Hindu-Muslim harmony. Those criticising the advertisement called it “Hindu-phobic” and that it promoted “love jihad”.

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