Dabur Chyawanprash finds itself in controversy for COVID-19 protection ad after brand ambassador Akshay Kumar tests positive

Sneha Yadav
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Dabur Chyawanprash Akshay Kumar

The latest brand to find itself in hot water is Dabur Chyawanprash for its claims of providing immunity against COVID-19 after its brand ambassador Akshay Kumar tested positive for the deadly virus.

Last month, in a print advertisement Dabur had claimed that two spoons of Dabur Chyawanprash daily provides protection against COVID-19. The print campaign was run across several national dailies and featured Akshay Kumar as the face of the brand. It also went onto claim that the findings were backed by clinical data and study. Since Kumar announced his latest encounter with the virus leading to his hospitalization, Dabur Chyawanprash has garnered trolls and negative comments for the claims pertaining to the print advertisement.

Veteran journalist Ravish Kumar too took a jibe at the brand for not providing its brand ambassador with doses of Dabur Chyawanprash through an Instagram post.

While on Twitter, several experts and netizens posted the snapshot of the advertisement and talked about the implications of alleged ‘false advertising’ simultaneously praying for a good recovery for Khiladi Kumar.

Brand consultant Ambi Parameswaran too took to the micro-blogging site to draw ASCI's attention towards the claims made by the brand and urged the organization to check the validity of the study mentioned.

Also Read: Expert Take on brands, bullies, and social media trolls

Last September, ASCI associated with TAM Media Research to monitor more than 3,000 digital platforms for misleading marketing messages. Also, the newly designed draft codes require an influencer/endorser to do the due diligence of any technical or performance claims of the brands they promote.

Not too long ago, Adani Wilmar’s flagship cooking oil brand Fortune Oil had faced backlash after Sourav Ganguly, the face of the brand suffered a minor cardiac arrest. The trolls mainly targeted the brand, for the ambassador suffered a heart attack after touting the product's health benefits.

Following the criticism online, Fortune Rice Bran cooking oil pulled out ads featuring Ganguly, however, decided to continue to work with the former Indian cricket captain as their brand ambassador.

Brands facing the heat of the ‘trolls’ on social media is no news since the online world has given a stage for everyone to voice out their views, whether the endorsers need to be held responsible for the ads they promote is a long-standing debate. We have seen the likes of Maggi, Coca Cola, Snapdeal ruffling feathers in the past and

Also Read: When trolls attack: Decoding the brand & ambassador’s role during a Social Media Crisis

In the case of Dabur Chyawanprash, while several others took to social media to make fun of the brand’ claims, other lot pointed out that the product only provides protection and increases immunity against the virus and is not a ‘remedy’.  

At the time of his appointment as the face of the brand in December 2020, Mohit Malhotra, CEO, Dabur India Ltd was quoted saying, "The times we are living in today have underlined the need for and importance of immunity more than ever before. Strong Immunity is the need of the hour with the threat of illnesses looming around us. Dabur Chyawanprash, with the power of more than 40 herbs like Ashwagandha, Giloy, and Amla, has always stood for boosting immunity to fight illnesses. Dabur Chyawanprash has always celebrated and championed the cause of building the health of the nation. Akshay Kumar is emblematic of health, fitness, and inner strength, the properties of Dabur Chyawanprash. We are happy to welcome him to the Dabur family."

Kumar has been a part of two video campaigns by the brand apart from the print advertisement that throws light on the significance of health and safety standards in these uncertain times.

The blame game still continues- whether the brand needs to be held responsible or the oh-so-popular celebrity endorsing the product and why is it of utter significance for celebrities and Influencers to be more cautious while selecting the brands/campaigns as a responsibility towards their loyal followers or fanbase.

Often we see brands getting trolled for no fault of theirs but the celebrities involved in the product endorsement. A few ad-media veterans are also seen suggesting 'celeb-less' endorsements deals and rather invest huge sums in developing a great idea to promote the brands. Various guidelines have been put forth by consulting groups on how to go about selecting celebrity brand endorsers as it ultimately impacts the consumers' perception of the brand and intent to purchase.

The big question that still persists is how do we justify the act of connecting personal events in a brand ambassador's life to the products they endorse and make them liable for supporting alleged false claims?

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