They call it an “energy drink for the mobile phone” -- a disposable charging unit for smartphones, roughly the size of a nine-volt battery and shaped like a tiny energy drink can.
The company claims that their product can be your phone’s lifeline, giving it approximately four more hours of battery time, and that their China-manufactured charging units are eco-friendly.
However, for an innovative product with a potential global appeal, Mobeego has an ad that many would find offensive or downright racist. The video starts with a man riding a bus as we hear a narrator with a peculiar accent. It will take most viewers only a few moments to realise that the narrator is trying to put on an Indian accent.
Racist ad featuring Aishwarya Rai Bachchan withdrawn after backlash
Then the video cuts to the convenience store cashier, the stereotypical occupation of people from the Indian subcontinent, particularly Indians and Pakistanis, who have migrated to the US. As the dark-skinned cashier introduces the product, South Asian classical music starts playing in the background, and the cashier makes an exaggerated movement with his head.
All of this is very reminiscent of the 2012 Ashton Kutcher advertisement that had to be pulled because of charges of racism. While humour is helpful in selling a product, shouldn’t the use of racist stereotypes for the purpose of creating humour be avoided?
“Our promotional video is trying to bring the simplicity of the new product in a humoristic way,” a reply from Mobeego’s Facebook page read. “The Indian shop owner is the one who introduces this simple and smart solution, and this Indian retailer looks smarter than all the ‘western’ people that their battery is running out in ridiculous ways.”
The statement also noted that the company did not intend to insult someone. Here's the advertisement:
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