Food delivery platform Zomato has deleted an advertisement campaign after the backlash on social media. The campaign, launched on World Environment Day (on June 5), was meant to raise awareness about the burden our planet faces because of plastic waste and showed how many kilograms of waste go into making mundane items – it takes 3-4 kg of recycled ‘kachra‘ to make paperweight, or 9-12 kg of ‘kachra‘ to make hand towels. The ad featured the actor who portrayed the character of ‘Kachra‘ in 2001 movie ‘Lagaan‘. But it was slammed by social media users for drawing comparison between the two – ‘Kachra‘ (waste or garbage) and the marginalised character.
The Zomato campaign showed how the company is helping the environment by opting for plastic-neutral deliveries. It showed the actor in various settings – as recycled hand towel, a similar flower pot and paper.
The character’s inclusion in the ad campaign aimed to highlight the importance of wasting food and draw the attention to the challenges faced by marginalised communities in the society.
Instead of resonating with the audience, the campaign faced backlash on social media, with users terming it tone-deaf.
“Casteist idea by Zomato to make advertisement and humiliate a marginalised character “Kachra”,” tweeted one user. “The Zomato ad is intentional – the protagonist is being reduced to a “recycled” object. Including being used as a stool and napkin. The execs who approved this were approving his dehumanisation as some punchline,” said another.
A third user said there is no need to accept Zomato’s “fake apology” if they issue one.
However, not all the comments were negative. Some users called it “contextual and within the larger spectrum of commercial entertainment in India”.
As the anger grew, the food delivery platform removed the campaign video from its YouTube channel.
In April 2022, the company announced 100 per cent plastic-neutral deliveries. Zomato said it will voluntarily recycle all plastic utilised while delivering the orders.