Picture for illustrative purposes only Image Credit: Pexels

Appliances company Kent RO Systems came under fire on social media after a new ad for an atta (dough) maker device suggested that people should not allow domestic help to knead dough since their hands “may be infected”. The ad was taken down over the outrage and the firm has since apologised for it.

The ad that was posted on Instagram by @kentroystems read: “Are you allowing your maid to knead atta dough by hand? Her hands may be infected. Choose Kent Atta and Bread Maker for hands-free kneading of dough. Let automation take care of hygiene this time! Don’t compromise on health and purity.”

‘Biased, racist and classist’

Even after being taken down, the screenshots of the campaign were shared extensively online and condemned for being “sexist” and “classist”. Many called to stop supporting the company with the hashtag #BoycottKent.

Twitter user @SaundaryaR wrote: “I presume #Kent atta maker doesn't want my business. Not only is it unfair to service demographics by assuming all are unhygienic, also assumes me or my husband do not knead atta. A great product bites the dust because the ad agency/product manager couldn't see beyond their biases.”

Tweep @bhukalbhuna121 wrote about how the ad encourages inequality and promotes the caste system: “The concept of pure and impure has been the marker of untouchability. Advertisement by Kent is casteist and classist. The authorities of Kent should be booked under appropriate legal action because untouchability and it's promotion is a crime #BoycottKent.”

Apology issued

In an official statement, the company’s chairman Mahesh Gupta wrote: “Our recent advertisement of Kent Atta & Bread Maker on social media was unintentional, badly communicated and was wrong. And therefore, it was immediately withdrawn. We are extremely sorry for this incident and want to apologise to everyone, especially to the people whose sentiments were hurt.”

On social media many tagged the company’s brand ambassador actor-turned-politician Hema Malini and urged her to take a stand and stop endorsing the company.

Malini, @dreamgirlhema, issued a statement online: “Views expressed by the recent advertisement of Kent Atta by @KentROSystems do not resonate with my values and are inappropriate, The Chairman has already tendered a public apology for the mistake. I hereby wish to put on record that I respect and stand by all sections of society.”