Microsoft Excel Catches Flak From Hindus After Confused With Surf Excel


A case of mistaken identity has hit the Google Play Store. Many Hindus are angered by an ad they feel unfairly targets their religion, but there’s one problem. The ad was made by detergent maker Surf Excel, but Microsoft’s Excel app is catching much of the flak for it, on Android devices.

What’s wrong with the Surf Excel ad?

Surf Excel has been running an ad (embedded below) in India showing children celebrating the Hindu festival Holi by dowsing each other in colors. For those in the West who aren’t familiar with Surf Excel, it’s a brand of detergent sold by Unilever in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. In the U.S., Surf is the detergent’s brand name without the word “Excel” attached to it.

In the controversial Surf Excel ad, a girl rides her bike as the other children throw color at her as part of the celebrations. Toward the end of the commercial, she rides to the home of a Muslim boy and takes him to the mosque on her bike. Outsiders not fully aware of the often-violent relationship between India and Pakistan—and historically, Hindus and Muslims as well—may not see anything wrong with the ad, but it has outraged many Hindus.

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Many have taken to social media with the hashtag “#BoycottSurfExcel.” Many Hindus feel the ad has targeted them in a negative way. Many have pronounced the ad “anti-Hindu,” so they’re making their voices heard. This tweet is only a small example of the ire Surf Excel has raised among Hindus:

Microsoft catches flak for Excel

It didn’t take long for the controversy to spill over to the Google Play Store, where numerous Hindus have left strong negative reviews for Microsoft’s Excel app, accusing it of partnering with the detergent brand for the controversial ad. However, Microsoft’s Office app has nothing to do with Surf detergent, so some who took notice of the increasing number of social media posts linking the two in relation to the ad have begun trolling those who made the mistake:

As the controversy over the Surf Excel ad has grown, some are starting to come out in support of the message it delivers, which is one of religious unity and tolerance. However, it seems clear this is one battle that won’t be going away any time soon, because many are denouncing the tolerance the ad appears to call for. The only question now is how long it will take for it to blow over.