NEW DELHI: Adani Wilmar, maker of Fortune brand of edible oils, has stopped all ads featuring former cricketer and Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president, Sourav Ganguly three days after he suffered a heart attack in his hometown, Kolkata.
The company’s move came in the wake of a fierce backlash on social media, as Ganguly was endorsing its rice bran cooking oil that claims to be good for the heart. Signed by the company in February for a period of two years, Ganguly also endorses its mustard oil in West Bengal and soya nuggets. Bollywood star, Akshay Kumar is the company’s other brand ambassador.
While defending its range of cooking oils, the company said this was a temporary interruption and it would continue working with the elegant southpaw, who led the Indian national team to some of its most memorable victories as its captain.
“Saurav Ganguly became our brand ambassador endorsing our Fortune rice bran oil. The rice bran oil is not a medicine but only a cooking oil. There are several factors which affect heart ailments including dietary and hereditary issues,” said Angshu Malik, deputy CEO at Adani Wilmar. “We shall continue to work with Saurav and he will continue to be our brand ambassador. We have only taken a temporary break in our TV commercial till we again sit with Saurav and take things forward.”
“This is a very unfortunate incident and can happen with anyone. Recently we heard about a senior IT executive collapsing on a treadmill while exercising. Does that mean the treadmill is bad? Rice bran oil is one of the world’s healthiest oils. It contains natural antioxidants. Gamma Oryzonal present in rice bran oil reduces bad cholesterol and improves lipid profile,” Malik added.
Brand experts, however, had a different view. “I do believe there are several issues at play here. There is brand Adani, brand Saurav, and finally the product, oil. The farmer agitation, the association of brand Adani with the ruling dispensation, Sourav and rumours of his political leanings, are all adding to the jamboree of discontent,” said brand expert, Harish Bijoor.
He urged brands to stay away from politics and religion. “Both these subjects divide audiences. Brands love united audiences as all are then their potential consumers. It is, therefore, best for brands to avoid these two subjects altogether,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ganguly or “Dada” , as he is fondly called, has been reported to be in a stable condition and set to return home soon from hospital.