FoodPanda’s ‘Pollywood’ ad sparks criticism online for not having Indian talent


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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.

Each is a different song in a different style.
(Credit: FoodPanda)

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.

“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.

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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Anne Dorall

Anne Dorall

Anne is a follower of sustainable living and the circular economy, and was able to convince the team to use reusable containers for tapau food. She is also the proud parent of 4 cats and 1 rabbit.

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