Goa daily, tour operator apologise for controversial ad

January 1st, 2009 - 9:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyPanaji, Jan 1 (IANS) A local newspaper group and a multinational travel and tour operator issued a public apology following a controversial advertising campaign, which according to protestors showed Hindu deities in bad light.Local Marathi newspaper Gomantak and its English edition Gomantak Times (GT) in their Jan 1 edition carried a front page apology for publishing ads, promoting pilgrimage tours, which they admitted had hurt religious sentiments of Hindus.

“The Dec 31 edition of GT carried an advertisement depicting Hindu deities in a manner which hurt religious sentiments of the community. We regret that such an advertisement escaped our scrutiny and apologise for the same,” GT executive editor Derek Almeida has said in the apology.

The advertisement campaign was launched by Cox and Kings, travel and tour operators with an worldwide presence.

Almeida claims that it was the newspaper management which brought the public outcry to the advertisers notice. “We brought to their notice the hurt and the anger of the people of Goa and they having accepted the error, decided to publish the apology,” Almeida said.

Cox and Kings in their apology released in the Jan 1 edition of the GT have passed on the buck to Saatchi & Saatchi, the advertising agency which conceptualized and released the controversial ad.

“The ad was only meant to increase devotion of the people and encourage them to visit places of religious interest. We felt that it would promote peace and calm in the current state of strife and unrest… The said advertisement was released without the consent and approval of the management of Cox & Kings (I) Ltd by the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi,” the apology issued by Cox and Kings reads.

Meanwhile, activists of right-wing organisations like the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti (HJS) and the Shiv Sena stormed and ransacked the offices of Cox and Kings in the capital city Panaji Wednesday.

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) spokesperson Govind Parvatkar said that the advertising campaign was condemnable and was in bad taste.

Goa Shiv Sena president Upendra Gaonkar, who Thursday filed a complaint with the Panaji police station against the Gomantak newspaper management and Cox and Kings (I) Ltd, said that the ads hurt religious sentiments. “There has to be accountability. Those who were responsible for releasing such an ad need to be taken to task,” Gaonkar told IANS.

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