Mahakal controversy eats into Zomato's latest campaign

The backlash came after the company rolled out a campaign showcasing a hungry Hrithik Roshan, who felt like having a thali (food platter), which he ordered from Mahakal

Aug 22, 2022 10:35:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team

Food app Zomato, is the next to be barraged by hate, this time from the holiest. 
 
The brand faced a backlash after it rolled out a campaign featuring actor Hrithik Roshan. The ad film showcased a hungry Roshan, who felt like having a thali (food platter), which he ordered from Mahakal. 
 
Mahakal is a popular temple located in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh.
 
According to media reports, this caused two priests from the temple to call the company out for hurting the religious sentiments of the Hindus. The duo claimed that devotees were served prasad on a thali for free and that it was not sold to them. 
 
They also demanded that the advertisement be withdrawn on 21 August, with an apology from the company. In addition, the Ujjain district collector, Ashish Singh, who is also chairman of the Mahakal temple trust, sought action against the company, with an intention to prevent anyone from mocking the Hindu religion again. 
 
Netizens too, took to social media to chastise Roshan and Zomato, for intentionally taking a dig at Hindu sentiments. 
 

However, Zomato quickly took to Twitter to issue an apology, but also clarified that their ad spoke of thalis at the Mahakal Restaurant and not the temple. 

Campaign India also reached out to Zomato, who clarified that the ad in question was no longer running. 
 
This is not the first time that the brand's received a comeuppance. In 2021, it rolled out a campaign titled ‘Har Customer Hai Star’ (every customer is a star), again featuring actors Roshan and Katrina Kaif.
 
These ads showcased Roshan offering a selfie to the delivery person, while the other film had Kaif offering her birthday cake to him. However, towards the end, in both ads, the delivery man leaves, since he has to deliver his next order in time.
 
 
Although the brand stated that the intention behind the campaign was to promote the company’s fast delivery and special customer service ethos, netizens criticised it for the detrimental working conditions of the Zomato delivery partners and valets.
 
Apart from this, Zomato also became a punching bag for netizens, who questioned why the brand was advertising on ‘hate-espousing’ news channels such as Republic TV.  This controversy too, was followed by #BoycottZomato on social media.