#MeToo Movement hits the Indian Media and Advertising Industry

M & A industry opens up with #MeToo and #TimesUp revealing more names

The underbelly of the Media and Entertainment segment was cut open to reveal names such as Utsav Chakraborty, K.R. Sreenivas, Gautam Adhikari, Zulfi Syed, Chetan Bhagat, and many, many more were revealed showing the ingrilled patriarchy and demented privilege towards men in our society. And now one more prominent name has been added to list – Ishrath Nawaz, a M & A veteran who joined Publicis as ECD earlier this year. Ishrath has worked with prominent agencies such as Saatchi & Saatchi, Draft FCB + Ulka, and Rediffusion Y & R.

In a thread, Twitter user Kalamwali Bai reveal the harrowing account of harassment faced at the hands of Nawaz. She shares that she contemplated suicide due to the accused’s behavior and the organization’s response to the complaint.

In a response to the tweet, an anonymous user to has shared a similar experience with the accused.

Publicis said the following in an official statement:

“We have taken note of the incidences reported in the tweets. We are deeply concerned by the seriousness of these allegations and are investigating them on priority. We will ascertain facts of the matter and see that the outcome is fair and just; and appropriate actions are taken as per the Company’s policy. We re-iterate that Publicis India has a zero-tolerance policy towards any type of workplace misconduct or abuse of power or harassment.”

In yet another instance, Sonia Mariam Thomas of BuzzFeed India too shared her ordeal with many coming out with their stories of similar experiences.

A Twitter user Geetika shared a Medium article that speaks about the dudebro culture at 22Feet Tribal Worldwide shedding light on mob bullying led by the head, Brijesh Jacob.

The agency said the following an official statement:

In another tweet, Utsavi J shared her bizarre experience with Omkar Sane Ex-Creative Director at Webchutney, Webchutney later fired the employee for this misconduct.

Sonali Kokra narrated her ordeal with Abhishek Agarwal from Boldkiln

Her thread later triggered another instance of an anonymous Twitter user sharing her tormenting experience in the past with Aditya Pawan, International Brand Marketing Manager at Red Bull

Twitter Users @NatellaPunCakes and @skhndh reported multiple stories involving Raj Kurup CEO, Creativeland Asia

Ruchi Muley, ex Creativeland Asia employee too opened up about her experience with Raj Kurup

A user who wishes to stay anonymous shared her experience with Uday Parkar of Breathing Space with Social Samosa.

Further, in an anonymous post on Medium, yet another user shared about the sexist culture at an arm of Viacom 18.

Raj Kamble of Famous Innovation too has been accused of harrasment and inappropriate behavior.

Mihir Chitre, the man behind campaigns such as Laugh at Death and What’s Your Problem too was accused.

Dinesh Swamy, National Creative Director at iProspect India got called out for making women uncomfortable at a previous stint. iProspect India however, reverted to the tweet with an investigation and assurance for zero tolerance.

iProspect said the following in a reply to an email by Social Samosa

“With more than 50% of our staff being female employees including the agency CEO, iProspect has always believed in providing a safe working environment for all. We have an internal committee adhering to Vishakha Guidelines. It is unfortunate that one of our recently recruited employees has been named in the #MeToo movement for an incident which is alleged to have happened a few years ago during his tenure with his previous employer. We have a zero tolerance policy towards sexual harassment at workplace and we will be conducting an enquiry regarding this.”

In a a medium post, one of the survivors shared uncomfortable instances while working with one of the Founders and Managing Partners at Utopeia Communicationz – Sudarshan Banerjee.

Soon after this development, Utopia’s female employees came out in support of Sudarshan, rubbishing the reports (refer to the comments on this article). Soon after, an ex employee Kiara Hiranandani shared her ordeal in an article on Medium and also wrote to Social Samosa with the same.

Kamakshi Thareja too shared her experience with Sudarshan via a Medium post.

Utoepia Communications shared an official statement saying the following…

“We are deeply saddened by the reports that have recently come up in the #MeToo Movement, regarding incidents of sexual harassment at Utopeia.

While we are very concerned about the seriousness of these allegations, we are also deeply distressed that there were people who felt unsafe and humiliated at our workplace.

For the record, Utopeia is an equal opportunity employer and will not tolerate any kind of workplace misconduct or harassment towards employees. We are investigating the incidents mentioned, on priority and necessary & even punitive actions will be taken to address any wrong-doings as per the company policy.”

Startling and gruesome revelations about Happy Mcgarrybowen’s CEO and Co-Founder – Kartik Iyer and Praveen Das from an employee who used to work with them 9 years ago (Happy Creative)

Yet another survivor has come out with her ordeal at Happy, revealing some unsettling details.

DAN said the following in an official statement

“Dentsu Aegis Network has always believed in providing a safe environment at our workplaces which is free from any kind of harassments. We have an internal committee constituted as per the rules prescribed under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 to look into any complaints in this regard. Certain incidents have just come to our notice involving senior members of Happy that allegedly took place few years ago, when Happy was not a part of DAN. An enquiry into these alleged incidents has already been initiated. Dentsu Aegis Network does not and WILL NOT accept anything but professional behaviour at our workplaces. We have a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of harassment at our workplaces and we are committed to speedy redressal of any complaints raised in this context after following due process, as advised by the internal committee.”

Allegations against Media & Advertising veteran, Suhel Seth too cropped up on Twitter.

In a fresh development, allegations of sexual harassment against former CEO of ibs Unifiled have surfaced.

While in some of these cases, the accused have accepted the hideous act and apologized. An apology is too little too late a gesture, to say the least. It is not possible to test the veracity of all these accusations, unless and until they translate into substantial reports and further investigations into the matter. It takes a lot of courage to come out and express this to the world, these women need support/strength to fight against the fears and take this ahead.

As many of you know, it all began when actress Tanushree Dutta opened up about facing harassment from Nana Patekar. As expected most of the world called her an attention seeker and she has been served with two notices, while the accused is filming for an upcoming movie.

Before we end this article, I’d like to mention that if you too have been a harassed emotionally, mentally, physically, or even as much as with one word – speak up! We stand with you!

UPDATE: This article has been updated to notify readers that, anonymous allegations against Mitali Srivastava, Co-Founder, Managing Partner and Head -Strategy at Utopeia Communicationz had been updated in the article due to a human error at our end. Since the Medium post updated by the anonymous accuser has been deleted by its author, and it’s account continues to be an unverified source, we believe it was a malicious rumour. All accusations against Mitali Srivastava, stand null and void. We apologize for the inconvenience and any sentiments that were hurt. We also request people to not post false accusations because it does damage to the #MeToo movement and it’s possible positive outcome in the future.

Note: The article has been updated to remove all anonymous allegations and reflects accounts that are either verified by Social Samosa or have been shared openly by a verified person on Twitter.

Please note that as a Media publisher we have merely reported #MeToo outage online with references to already published content, tweets, and information out in the public domain.