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[Update: FoodPanda has released an apology. See updates below in italics.]
Recently, the FoodPanda food delivery app came under fire for an ad titled “Pollywood”. In it, the actors sang about the application in the Bollywood style while wearing traditional Indian costumes.
The campaign features well-known Malaysian celebrities such as Adiba Noor and Nadia Aquila.
This is actually part of a series of announcements for their #TakkanTakTahu? campaign featuring multiple genres of music, such as k-pop, pop, rock, etc.
However, this particular seemingly innocuous “Pollywood” ad has deeply divided Malaysian internet users.
“It’s cultural appropriation”
Internet users who saw this ad quickly realized that despite the Bollywood theme, no Indian talent was involved in the ad. Since Deepavali is also around the corner (November 4th), they also came to the conclusion that this was totally inappropriate publicity for the festival.
Some argued that this was cultural appropriation, while others noted that the Indian community has always been marginalized and erased far too often.
@foodpanda_my it is appalling.
An Indian-themed ad featuring our culture, but not a single prominent Indian? So tired of how local brands and media continue to take ownership of marginalized communities while DELETING mainstream content from us. pic.twitter.com/W3H25BzFDo
– Neesha (@VaneeshaKrish) October 4, 2021
Food Panda has an Indian MD, but still manages to royally screw up a Deepavali ad…
I can’t wait to find out about the agency, the production house and of course the cost of filming the Oscar-nominated ad.
– Alex the Great ™ ️ (@ kraj76) October 5, 2021
Wow the absurdity and unfairness of it all, and no one blinked. Would having a full Indian cast for another festival be an acceptable food panda? Uninstalling Foodpanda.
– Sumi Krish (@ Smitach2) October 5, 2021
“I can’t see what’s wrong”
Others came to defend the announcement, saying there is nothing wrong with it if people from other cultures want to join us and explore Indian culture.
I don’t know why this generation is getting so sensitive, bende cam nor also wants to complain. rilek la. I have the impression that it is drugs! what if other cultures explored our culture ?? we should also explore other cultures. come out of the shell pls.
– Gin69yBoi (@GinggyBoi) October 5, 2021
Looks like I’m one of the few who watched enough TV to understand that the foodpanda ads are just a music themed ad and certainly not a Deepavali ad.
– City Adele く コ: 彡 🇲🇾 (@ ct_adila39) October 6, 2021
yg aku fhm pasal foodpanda ad tu
1.this is not a deepavali ad
2.It’s an announcement for a family and enjoy different genres of music, from pop yes yes to bollywood
3.bollywood is from north india and indian di malaysia is from south india
4.bollywood is a genre loved by many people
– m (@ pumpkin52057694) October 6, 2021
Teasers of a larger story
According to the FoodPanda press release, the short music videos currently being released online are just teasers for a much bigger story.
The minisodes Ke Hati Seri delivery follows the story of Seri and her three-generation family as they go through their daily lives using various FoodPanda features on different songs.
Musical inspirations include Barbershop Quartet on our loyalty program, K-Pop rapping on discounts earned with a promo code, and Bollywood on group orders and more.
Vanita Menon Kris, foodpanda marketing manager
At the time of writing, FoodPanda has yet to release a statement on its creative decision on the talents used in this campaign.
[Update] FoodPanda apologizes
Foodpanda Marketing Director Vanita Menon Kris has since apologized for the creative decisions that led to the division.
“We understand that there may have been a misunderstanding with the video in question which was awarded. However, this specific video is part of a larger campaign and not a Deepavali ad. foodpanda would like to humbly apologize, as it was never our intention to annoy our consumers as we remain committed to bringing joy to your doorstep.
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