Two of India’s top advertising bodies on Wednesday condemned the threats and targeting of jewellery brand Tanishq over an advertisement, featuring a Hindu-Muslim family celebrating a baby shower.

The commercial was withdrawn on Tuesday after it received vociferous criticism from Hindutva supporters on social media. The advertisement, released ahead of the festival season, shows a baby shower organised by a Muslim family for their daughter-in-law, who is a Hindu.

A day after its withdrawal, a Tanishq jewellery showroom in the city of Gandhidham in Gujarat posted an apology note outside the store after people allegedly barged into the store demanding one. Calls to boycott the company over the advertisement were trending on social media for “normalising love jihad” a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists, alleging that Hindu women are forcibly converted by Muslims through marriage.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Advertising Club said its review found that the ad was not derogatory to any individual, organisation or religion and does not hurt any national sentiment. “Such baseless and irrelevant attack on creative expression is extremely concerning,” it added.

Meanwhile, the Indian chapter of the International Advertising Association called the events leading to the withdrawal of the ad “very unfortunate”. It said the Narendra Modi government should act against such “intimidating behaviour”.

“While we respect the opinion of every individual on subjective matters, these should not descend to illegal threats and anti-social behavior,” a statement said. “We appeal to the concerned governments to take a serious view of such intimidating behaviour and take exemplary action where required to ensure that businesses are provided a safe environment to communicate their brand advertising messages.”

In a statement late on Tuesday, Tanishq said it was withdrawing the ad due to “hurt sentiments” and the “well-being” of their employees, partners and store staff. The company also said the idea behind “Ekavatam” or oneness campaign was 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”. The jewellery brand is a subsidiary of the Tata Group, one of the largest conglomerates in India.

Also read:

  1. Tanishq fracas offers clarity on Hindutva definition of ‘love jihad’: any inter-faith marriage
  2. Tanishq pulls ad featuring inter-faith match, a sign of the angry, fearful times in which we live