Nestle Discontinues Range of KitKat Bars With Photo of Hindu Gods Amid Social Media Outrage
There have been several incidents involving multinational brands trying to use photos of Hindu Gods to woo Indian customers. However, it has always drawn criticism, forcing the brands to tender an apology.
Nestle India, a subsidiary of the world's largest food and beverage company, has withdrawn a range of chocolate bars after facing backlash from social media users for using photos of Hindu Gods on the wrapper.
The limited range of KitKat, a well-known chocolate bar, was launched as part of the global "KitKat travel breaks" range, where artwork by local artisans were printed on the wrappers.
However, the Indian version of the range, designed to celebrate crafts from the state of Odisha, triggered outrage on social media as they featured images of the Hindu deities Lord Jagannath, sis sister Goddess Subhadra, and brother Balabhadra.
Social media users suggested that the chocolate wrappers would end up in "dustbins, drains, gutters" or trodden underfoot, which would be disrespectful to the Gods and the Hindu faith.
Following the strong backlash on social media, the firm issued an apology and tweeted to convey that the intention was not to hurt anyone's religious sentiments.
In a series of tweets Nestle India said: "Hi! Kitkat travel break packs are meant to celebrate beautiful local destinations. Last year we wanted to celebrate the culture of Odisha with designs on packs representing 'Pattachitra', an art form uniquely identifiable by its vivid imagery".
"The visual was inspired by the government tourism website. We wanted to encourage people to know about the art & its artisans. Our past campaigns have also shown that consumers like to collect & keep such beautiful designs", it added.
Informing consumers about the withdrawal of the packs from the market, Nestle India further said that they understand the sensitivity of the matter and regret inadvertently hurting anyone's sentiment.
This is not the first time the KitKat travel range has landed Nestle in trouble.
Last year, the company had to issue an apology for packaging that incorrectly depicted Lamjao National Park to be in the state of Meghalaya rather than Manipur, and featured a red panda, a species not found in the park.