New Delhi, Jul 19: UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya is yet to take a decision on withdrawing a controversial advertisement which shows Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni “mocking” at spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has slapped a legal notice against the group.
Mallya said that they were considering the notice served on them by Harbhajan's lawyers and made it clear that the spoof was not targetted at the ace Indian spinner.
“We are studying the notice at the moment and have not taken any decision on withdrawing the advertisement. We will respond to the notice soon,” Mallya told PTI over phone.
Mallya said his company has been involved in sports for a long time and it was unfair to interpret the spoof as an insult to Harbhajan.
“Our company has a professional set-up and had a good profile. We have been involved in sports for a very long time and it is wrong to interpret the ad as any sort of target against Bhajji,” he said.
“it is a humorous ad and definitely it is not targetting at anyone. There have been so many TV commercials which are humorous but nobody objects to those. So why should people object to this ad,” he said.
Mallya also said felt the rival brand may be creating this controversy and dragging Harbhajan into it.
“It seems that the rival brand is behind this, not Harbhajan. They are creating this controversy. This is a campaign by Harbhajan's company,” he said.
The UB Group chairman also made it clear that he had immense respect for both Dhoni and Harbhajan and there was no question of creating any rift between the two.
“I want to make clear that there is absolutely no intention to create any rift between the two. We are all proud of them as top class international sportspersons. There is no question of damaging the personal relationship,” Mallya said.
“I have been a sports lover and this is not something which I will ever do. The ad is just humour and it should be taken in that spirit,” he said.
The United Spirits was yesterday served with a legal notice by Avtar Kaur, Harbhajan's mother, through his lawyers, Dewani Advocates & Consultants.
Harbhajan's lawyers, in the legal notice, claimed that the commercial mocks the off-spinner, his family and the Sikh community.
While sending the notice for ad spoof, the off-spinner's mother Avtar Kaur said these kind of advertisements bring “disunity and friction” in the Indian team and can be termed anti-national.
The notice demands that the company publicly apologise to Harbhajan's family “through widely-read newspapers as well as television channels prominently” apart from removing the advertisement within three days of receiving the notice.
Apart from Mallya, the notice has been sent to UB Executive Vice Chairman SR Gupte, President & CFO Ravi Nedungadi, Deputy President Harish Bhat and Executive VP (Corporate Affairs) Nandini Verma. It also seeks a compensation of Rs 1,00,000 to the cricketer's family towards the cost of the notice.
Harbhajan and Dhoni endorse rival brands. The Indian skipper in an McDowell's No 1 Platinum advertisement allegedly makes fun of Harbhajan, who had featured in a advertisement for Royal Stag.
Both Royal Stag and McDowell's No 1 are competing whiskey brands in the market, coming in the same price band. The ads, however, are for the soda brands. PTI