Australia froths at Indian mouthwash advertisement

Sydney: The Australian cricket body has ordered the removal of a boundary-rope advertisement of an Indian mouthwash in Hindi after health authorities launched a probe over its similarity with a chewing tobacco product marketed in India.

Cricket Australia (CA) is in frantic damage control after the federal health department reportedly launched the investigation into the advertisement of the Indian mouthwash. The advertisement could be seen in all of the India-Australia encounters in the Test series and also in the limited-over matches.

The Australian cricket administrators have ordered the Hindi advertisements to be removed just ahead of the Wednesday one-day international tie between India and Sri Lanka at Perth.

According to a Cricket Australia spokesperson, the mouthwash advertisement has been pulled out as CA felt ‘uneasy’ about the uncanny similarity of the brand with a chewing tobacco product marketed in India.

All forms of tobacco advertising is banned in Australia under the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992 and, currently, the Australian government is in the process of banning the use of tobacco industry logo, brand imagery and even product names.

If the health department investigation finds Cricket Australia guilty of contravening a strict ban on tobacco advertising, a heavy penalty could be imposed.

The Australian cricket authorities have partly blamed Indian High Commission in Australia for their plight.

“We asked (the Indian government’s) advice because we are not familiar with the Hindi language,” Young told Australian media Tuesday.

“They came back and said it’s an Indian mouthwash – or at least they said it’s not a tobacco product,” he said.

“We don’t have one million per cent certainty about all of the detail,” Peter Young was quoted as saying.

“It appears that there is a tobacco company with the same or similar brand name to the product that is being advertised…We have just become uneasy about it and said, let’s withdraw this.”

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” he added.

The mouthwash advertisements could be seen displayed on the boundary rope during the Australia-India Test series in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide. The controversial advertisement was once again on display in the two Twenty20 international matches and a one-day international match played at MCG in Melbourne.

Even though the Australian cricket summer season involving India and, now, Sri Lanka started six weeks back from the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Cricket Australia was made aware about the concerns about the alleged tobacco advertising only Monday.

An anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) is reported to have raised their concern in a communication to the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland Monday.