Puma ac­cused of de­fac­ing her­itage for shoe com­mer­cial

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

New Delhi, In­dia - Global sports­wear gi­ant Puma was ac­cused on Tues­day of ir­re­versibly dam­ag­ing 17th-cen­tury ar­chi­tec­ture in Delhi’s his­toric quar­ter as part of an ad­ver­tis­ing stunt to pro­mote a new line of shoes.

The fa­cades of sev­eral build­ings in Old Delhi have been spray-painted with large colour­ful mu­rals for the shoe cam­paign that Puma said ‘cap­tures the grit of In­dian streets’ on its web­site.

But the stunt - dubbed ‘Suede Gully’ af­ter the shoe ma­te­rial and the Hindi word for street - has in­fu­ri­ated con­ser­va­tion­ists who ac­cused Puma of de­fac­ing the cen­turies-old quar­ter built by Mughal emperor Shah Ja­han.

“It’s a her­itage area. You can’t just go and paint what you like,” Swapna Lid­dle from the In­dian Na­tional Trust for Art and Cul­tural Her­itage said.

“Per­ma­nent dam­age has been done to the carved sand­stone, lime­stone plas­ter and La­hori bricks.”

“Those who made and ap­proved this ad­ver­tise­ment, those who stood by while this was done, are all re­spon­si­ble for this in­sen­si­tive treat­ment.”

Puma could not im­me­di­ately be reached for com­ment but a spokes­woman for the sports­wear brand told The In­dian Ex­press news­pa­per ‘all nec­es­sary per­mis­sions were sought’.

In an ad­ver­tis­ing video for the Puma cam­paign, In­dian rap­pers and hip-hop dancers per­form at graf­fiti-cov­ered lo­ca­tions in­clud­ing trains in the fi­nan­cial cap­i­tal Mumbai.

Rules to pro­tect Delhi’s ne­glected her­itage sites from de­struc­tion are widely ig­nored, con­ser­va­tion­ists say.

Laws specif­i­cally for­bid­ding ad­ver­tis­ing on his­toric build­ings is rarely en­forced by Delhi’s cash-strapped au­thor­i­ties, who strug­gle to up­hold mea­sures de­signed to con­serve the city’s crum­bling icons.

The owner of one Delhi build­ing spray-painted for the Puma cam­paign de­fended the de­ci­sion as his only to make.

“This is a pri­vate prop­erty and the graf­fiti is mak­ing the area look more beau­ti­ful. The area is look­ing bet­ter now, it is more lively,” Arun Khan­del­wal told The In­dian Ex­press.

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