Amitabh Bachchan faces heat for Horlicks campaign

Amitabh Bachchan faces heat for Horlicks campaign

Horlicks campaign

MUMBAI : Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan on May 30 posted a series of tweets announcing his collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) brand Horlicks to fight malnutrition in India. “I am taking the 1st step by joining the biggest movement to fight malnutrition,” tweeted Bachchan tagging media group Network18, prime minister Narendra Modi, union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi, CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant and Poshan Abhiyaan, the government programme for combating malnutrition.

The 75-year-old actor now finds himself at the centre of a controversy after several public health experts wrote to him asking him to end his association with Horlicks. The experts believe the campaign is disingenuous and flouts the optimal nutrition norms.

"Horlicks is a high sugar product, as 100 gram of a popularly advertised pack of Horlicks Delight, contains 78 gram of carbohydrates of which 32 grams is sucrose sugar,” read the letter from the experts from Nutrition Advocacy in Public Interest - India (NAPi), according to news agency PTI.

The letter added that representing a brand like Horlicks hurts the veteran actor's image as a socially responsible celebrity.

"Going by this recommendation promotion of Horlicks falls in the category of inappropriate as they use false health claims in TV commercials," the letter stated.

Horlicks has titled its campaign ‘Mission Poshan’, with a motto “we are here to fight the malnutrition in our country”. Interestingly, the GSK brand has opted for a campaign name that is similar to the government programme 'Poshan Abhiyaan'.

"I fear that this campaign may have serious adverse repercussions: Horlicks is expensive and is likely to drain pockets of marginalized families under the misbelief that Horlicks is a good nutritious product for children as it is endorsed by Mr Bachchan. Thus Horlicks may displace healthy real family home foods and this way contravenes tackling the problem of undernutrition among children," said RML hospital's head of neonatology department Dr Arti Maria.

Bachchan, who had ended his association with Pepsi in 2014, is yet to respond to the criticism.