Puma India today apologised for defacing a heritage precinct in old Delhi by spray painting a wall for an advertisement campaign, saying it was “unintentional” and a result of “lack of information”.
The company said it had a meeting with heritage body INTACH, civic authorities and the owner of one of the properties, and it was decided that the production company involved in the campaign would “restore the wall” to its original look.
The precinct falls in the Chawri Bazar area and the graffiti splashed on the wall made of lakhori bricks and limestone plaster had sparked outrage among conservationists and other heritage experts.
“We are sorry that we have unintentionally hurt sentiments of people,” Puma India, a subsidiary of German sportswear firm Puma, said in a statement.
The company said post discussion, all the stakeholders had also “aligned” to the fact that there was “need to raise awareness” among the owners about guidelines to preserve heritage properties.
“We are very proud of India’s heritage and would never like to compromise it in any way. Our using this building wall for our campaign shoot has been completely unintentional and clearly due to lack of information,” a Puma India spokesperson said.
INTACH Delhi Convenor Swapna Liddle, who had highlighted the issue on social media this week, had earlier said she feared the paintings might cause “irreversible damage” to the 18th-century era structures.
An official spokesperson of Puma India, when contacted by PTI earlier, had said: “We believe all the required permissions were obtained to carry out the shoot. However, given the point raised we are investigating the matter.”
Dubbed the ‘Suede Gully’, the three-minute-long video, shot over a month ago in multiple languages and four cities, is a creative endeavour that “captures the grit of Indian streets”, the Puma India website said.
“It has been brought to our notice that a building wall used in our ‘Suede Gully’ video shoot is a heritage site. As a part of the shoot, graffiti was done on the wall of the building by a local artist,” the company said.
The appointed production house had “taken necessary written permissions” from the owner of this private property, it said.
Even during the shoot, which happened on September 24, the teams involved did not know about the heritage status of the building, it said.
After the shoot, the production house offered to “restore the look of the wall to its original colour”, but the owner refused because he “felt that the art had made his wall cleaner and livelier”, Puma India said.
It said it had advised its creative agency to ask the appointed production house to do “whatever it takes to restore the wall to its original look-and-feel”.
“They are coordinating with the owner of the building with regard to the same,” the statement said.
Conservationist AGK Menon had said on Tuesday the issue highlighted the need for more efficient laws.
“The case points out that more awareness is needed to help people and big companies understand what constitutes heritage,” he had said.