The former Miss World starred in an advertisement which was seen by certain section of the Indian population, especially child’s rights activists, as racists and demeaning in respect of children’s rights.
In the advertisement, Aishwarya was photographed bejeweled with precious ornaments, as a halk naked, comparatively dark skin toned child held an umbrella above her head. The print ad provoked a severe backlash from activists such as Shantha Sinha, former chairperson of national commission for protection of child rights. Sinha penned an open letter to Ash and demanded she distance herself from the ad.
“We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product. While advertisers routinely use fantasy images to sell products, they must surely desist from using images that condone, legitimize, normalize, or build desirable fantasy around slavery or servitude of any kind, including child slavery or child servitude. Further, the extremely fair colour of your skin contrasted with the black skin of the slave-boy is obviously a deliberate “creative” juxtaposition by the advertising agency, and insidiously racist,” the letter read.
Aishwarya was quick to respond and thanking the activists for writing to her, she released a statement.
“On the onset we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However, shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professional working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once again.”
Aishwarya claimed that the picture had been changed prior to her knowledge. Kalyan Jewellers took the ad down a day after it had been uploaded and provoked a negative reaction. In a Facebook post, the jewelry brand elaborated what they intended to project via their advertisement:-