Public Uproar: Amitabh Bachchan receives backlash after Flipkart ad irks Traders

Renowned Bollywood icon, Amitabh Bachchan, finds himself entangled in an advertising controversy. The recent advertisement in question, featuring the megastar for Flipkart’s ‘The Big Billion Days’, has stirred controversy within the business community. Accusations of spreading misinformation have sparked outrage.

The Confederation of All India Traders (CAIT) has taken notice, expressing concern by sending a letter to Amitabh Bachchan, seeking clarification on the reasons behind endorsing an ad that appears to mislead consumers. The letter asserts that the advertisement disseminated misleading information, causing harm to small businesses.

The ad, which is no longer accessible on Flipkart’s YouTube account, reportedly features Amitabh Bachchan saying that the smartphone deals offered by the e-commerce portal are not accessible at the retail outlets. It requested that Flipkart and Bachchan each get a fine of Rs. 10 lakh and that the advertisement be removed. CAIT has urged the CCPA to instruct Flipkart to promptly cease the airing of this advertisement to prevent further harm to India’s brick-and-mortar retailers. Additionally, CAIT has called for the imposition of penalties on Flipkart under Section 89 of the CPA for engaging in false or misleading advertising practices.

CAIT has filed complain to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs about Flipkart and Amitabh Bachchan. Additionally, the traders’ organisation voiced their “deep disappointment” in Amitabh Bachchan for publicly endorsing the e-commerce behemoth’s “misleading and frivolous claim that deals and discounts on mobile phones are not available in offline stores and are only available on Flipkart.”

CAIT Secretary General Praveen Khandelwal regretted that Amitabh did not pay attention to the demand of CAIT and AIMRA on the Flipkart ad promoting the Jago Grahak Jago slogan. It seems that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting will seek intervention in this matter. On the other hand, neither Flipkart nor BigB has issued any official statement on this.

The trader’s association wrote to the actor in response to his recent Flipkart advertisement, saying, “We are highly disheartened to witness your recent advertisement where you claimed that deals and offers are not available at shopkeepers, thereby misguiding and influencing the consumers. We strongly condemn this and seek an explanation as to on what grounds you said such words in the advertisement in question.”

“We humbly request you refrain from being biased or diverting customers towards online platforms with misleading statements or advertising for monetary gains,” it said.

In the letter, CAIT expressed concerns that the actor’s support of online shopping, “without acknowledging the fact that shopkeepers also offer competitive pricing and discounts,” is incongruent with his role as host of Kaun Banega Crorepati, in which he is seen “consistently promoting and highlighting the stories and struggles of ordinary individuals.” The organisation also emphasised the government of India’s initiatives to support regional retailers and small companies.

The confederation claimed that Flipkart engaged in unfair business practices through the advertisement. “As you may be aware, deceptive advertising distorts competition and influences customer choice in addition to being immoral. It said that the advertisement is unethical because it is untrue, distorts competition by tipping the scales in favor of Flipkart by misleading consumers, and manipulates consumer choice by eliminating their options to visit physical retailers to purchase mobile phones, among other items.

Sumit Agarwal, National Secretary of CAIT, in a post on X said that, “In this advertisement for Flipkart you are demeaning the retailers of our nation by making false, baseless and misleading claim.”

The Big Billion Days sale at Flipkart will start on October 8 and run through October 15, and is anticipated to boost sales throughout the holiday season. Last year, Flipkart saw a 70% increase in sales of high-end mobile phones during the eight-day affair.

Influential smartphone brands were urged by the group, which speaks for 150,000 mobile merchants, to “issue either a joint or individual statement in prominent news media outlets” claiming that the content of the problematic advertisement is inaccurate.

The All India Mobile Retailers Association (AIMRA) criticized Bachchan for the actor’s “misleading” promotion of Flipkart before the CAIT voiced its opposition to the actor’s advertisement. While the commercial was made private in response to these concerns, CAIT has now formally complained to the CCPA – Central Consumer Protection Authority and is requesting immediate action against Amitabh Bachchan and Flipkart.