GUJARAT: Indian authorities tore down dozens of billboards after a slew of complaints over an advertisement depicting a former porn star promoting condoms ahead of a major Hindu festival.
The image of Sunny Leone, a Canadian actress of Indian origin, advertising contraceptives ahead of the religious celebration of Navratri proved too much for some in the western state of Gujarat.
The advertisement features no image of a condom, but stoked outrage in conservative India for its slogan “Play with love this Navratri”.
In a written complaint, the Confederation of All India Traders accused the condom manufacturer behind the risque ad of taking marketing “to an all-time low”.
“This is an immature attempt to boost sales by putting all our cultural value at stake”, the traders group said in a statement.
The group took particular umbrage at the link between sex and Navratri, a nine-day Hindu festival of fasting and prayer.
Local authorities in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, removed the advertisements as controversy mounted.
Leone is brand ambassador for Manforce, India’s largest condom manufacturer, and one of its most searched celebrities online.
The actress featured in adult films including “Descent into Bondage” and “Costumed Damsels in Distress” before making the transition to Indian cinema, where she has remained a magnet of criticism.
Named “Penthouse Pet of the Year” in 2003, Leone has been accused in in India of promoting obscenity and eroding cultural values.