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  • Writer's pictureMadhumita Bhattacharya

10 Times Indian Ads Went Terribly Wrong (Part 1)

Advertisements are one of the most powerful weapons for a marketing team. Creatively-made ads portraying novel and out-of-box thinking are known to drive audience engagement, leaving them impressed beyond words. Advertisers and marketers try their best to serve their audiences with ‘wow’ ads, time and again. But sometimes, things can go wrong. From poor content to insensitive underlying overtone, your ads can fail to impress your audience in multiple ways. Worse, they might reject your ads completely.

We will talk about ten such ads today that went wrong.


This ad series featured celebrities like Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif. The message was that the brand treats all its customers equally. And, to also depict the fast delivery promise by the company. The audience, however, saw another angle to all of it that didn’t go down very well with them.

The fact that the delivery boys didn’t even have a few seconds between deliveries for selfies received criticism widely. Employees being overworked with packed schedules while money was being spent on hiring A-listers for ads was widely criticized.


This ad was ill-timed and rubbed people the wrong way.

The ad was released in Gujarat and featured Sunny Leone. The backdrop was the upcoming Navratri season to talk about using condoms.

There was a public outcry and the company was forced to take down the ads from billboards across the state.

Mahak Pan Masala

This ad showed how advertisers can sometimes terribly fail in understanding their audience.

As per the creative, the consumers of Mahak Pan Masala will always have a beautiful-looking girl accompanying them – that is as long as they do not finish the pan masala. Once finished, the girl will disappear.

While the purpose of the ad copy was to draw a comparison between the pan masala and a good-looking chic girlfriend, the delivery of the ad was lost on the audience.

JK Super Cement

Here's how the video starts - A girl in a red bikini walks out of the sea. And here's how it ends - A girl in a red bikini continues to walk out of the sea. That's it!

That's all there is in this ad with a voice-over talking about JK Super Cement. Another great example of the objectification of women.

Apparently, you can sell any product, even a bag of cement by showing such content! However, this one’s overdone and the audience didn't take it sitting down.

Tuff Shoes

It was 1995 and probably way too progressive 27 years back. The ad featured popular models Madhu Sapre and Milind Soman baring it all except wearing Tuff shoes. And, a python was seen wrapped around the models to cover their bare essentials.

Whatever the thought process that went behind the ad, it was pulled down after being banned by the court. Not just that, even the two models were penalized for ‘indecent behavior’ by the court.

Did the ad work though? Would we find it objectionable in this time and age?


This one was also banned after facing protests from the audience. Featuring Bipasha Basu and Dino Morea, the ad was unaccepted because it was way too explicit back in 1998. The ad shows the male model pulling the female model’s underwear with his teeth.

The big question is would such an ad find acceptance today by Indian consumers?

Kent RO

Sometimes brands can sound outright insensitive! This one is the perfect example of the same in recent times. Facing backlash on social media, Kent RO apologized and took down the ad immediately.

Amul India

Riding high on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atmanirbhar India, Amul, which is always one of the first to create excellent and relevant ads/posters, faltered this time. Many saw this ad as opportune and politicizing the matter.

The brand, of course, stuck to its guns and maintained that the ad showcases the public’s emotions.


Paytm featured its @PaytmFirstGames ad on Twitter showing a young Sachin Tendulkar being slapped by his would-be coach. The idea didn’t go down well with the audience and there was a huge outcry later.

It didn’t help much that the boy went on to become real-life Sachin Tendulkar. Slapping a child in these times is a strict no-no.

Jawed Habib’s Salon

This infringed on the religious sentiments of the people and thus the brand had to take down the ad.

It portrayed Hindu gods & goddesses visiting the salon for a hair redo. The tagline, “Gods too visit JH Salon.” The brand owner had to publicly apologize after facing public resentment for religious and emotional insensitivity.



These were not the only ones that went wrong. There are many more. We will feature more of such ads in our next post on the same topic.

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