A latest TV commercial of the upGrad featuring a donkey has run into trouble with an eminent lawyer and activist Mrinalini Padhi filing a complaint against it with the Advertisement Standard Council of India (ASCI), describing the online education company's ad as âblatantly sexist, misogynist and objectionable under any acceptable parameter.â
Padhi, a former member of the Odisha State Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission, has also served a legal notice to the upGradâs Co-founder and Executive Chairman Ronnie Screwvala, urging him to withdraw the TV commercial âimmediatelyâ.
âFailing which appropriate legal civil and criminal action would be initiated,â she has warned.
Confirming that she has filed a complaint against the upGradâs advertisement with the ASCI and also served a legal notice to the companyâs Co-founder and Executive Chairman, Padhi said the companyâs TV commercial is "indecent and demeaning" as it portrays working women in âan extremely bad light.â
Established in 2015, upGrad is an online higher education platform providing industry -relevant programmes designed and delivered in collaboration withÂ
"world-class faculty" and industry.Â
Efforts to take response of the online education company on the issue went in vein. A PR agency, which handles media for the upGrad, did not provide any response from the company despite repeated requests since August 25.
âThe advertisement depicts a woman, who is licking an ass, in a suggestive manner in order to rise in her career. Whereas, a man is shown as someone who doesnât lick the ass and progresses in career because he undertook a course offered by the upGrad,â Padhi told Outlook.
She described the TV commercial as âshocking, disgusting and repulsiveâ, alleging that it creates âa very wrong impressionâ about working women.
âThe expression of the girl, the way she drops the paper before licking the ass and her expression thereafter shows her willingness to the overtures of the boss which would have normally been condemned as sexual harassment in workplaces, which has been so elaborately dealt with by the Supreme Court,â she added.
Padhi contented that the upGradâs advertisement, being telecast on all major TV channels, is also âinappropriateâ for the children to watch.