New Delhi, February 7, 2024: In the aftermath of the widely criticized Poonam Pandey death stunt, global pharmaceutical giant MSD, the manufacturer of the Gardasil vaccine for Human Papillomavirus (HPV), has officially severed ties with creative marketing agency Schbang. MSD clarified that it was unaware of Schbang’s association with Poonam Pandey and strongly condemned the “grossly irresponsible” initiative.
Schbang was initially engaged by MSD for creative marketing solutions but faced backlash following the controversial incident where Poonam Pandey faked her death as part of a cervical cancer awareness initiative, urging women to take the HPV vaccine. The stunt, conceptualized by Schbang in collaboration with Hauterfly (A Fork Media Group Co.), drew significant criticism for its deceptive nature.
In an official statement provided to exchange4media (e4m), MSD stated, “MSD would like to categorically state that the recent public relations activity on cervical cancer carried out by Poonam Pandey and digital marketing agency Schbang was neither initiated with MSD’s endorsement nor made with the knowledge of MSD.” The pharmaceutical company expressed its disapproval of the stunt, deeming it “grossly irresponsible and distasteful,” contrary to the company’s values of ethics and integrity.
Upon learning of Schbang’s involvement, MSD took immediate action, terminating its service contract with the agency. MSD emphasized the importance of disease awareness being conveyed in a scientifically and medically accurate manner while adhering to appropriate ethical standards.
exchange4media reached out to Schbang for comment, but as of now, there has been no response from the agency. The controversy prompted an apology from Poonam Pandey, Hauterfly, and Schbang as they acknowledged the deceptive nature of the initiative, which had left netizens feeling misled. The incident has sparked discussions around the responsible execution of awareness campaigns, especially in the context of critical health issues.