“Worst publicity stunt.”

Poonam Pandey has faked her death to “raise awareness” about cervical cancer in a stunt that has been almost unanimously condemned as disrespectful and detrimental to the cause.

On Friday, it was revealed that Poonam had died, with her team posting a heartfelt message on Instagram where they emphasized their sadness and asked for privacy during their difficult time of mourning.

 

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A post shared by Poonam Pandey (@poonampandeyreal)

While a few followers and comments expressed skepticism about this news, highlighting how the actress did not show signs of any illness in her recent post just four days before the news of her “death”, Poonam’s team doubled down on the lie by reiterating it to a variety of other news sources. Her manager, Parul Chawla, confirmed the model’s alleged demise to ANI, and her team also emphasized it in an interview with News18.

The news thus took the country and creator economy by storm, making headlines in almost all major outlets.

However, less than a day later, Poonam took to Instagram to reveal that she was actually alive and had merely faked her death for a campaign to raise awareness about cervical cancer across the country. She said: “I feel compelled to share something significant with you all – I am here, alive. Cervical Cancer didn’t claim me, but tragically, it has claimed the lives of thousands of women who stemmed from a lack of knowledge on how to tackle this disease. Unlike some other cancers, Cervical Cancer is entirely preventable. The key lies in the HPV vaccine and early detection tests. We have the means to ensure no one loses their life to this disease. Let’s empower one another with critical awareness and ensure every woman is informed about the steps to take. Visit the link in the bio to delve deeper into what can be done. Together, let’s strive to put an end to the devastating impact of the disease and bring #DeathToCervicalCancer“.

 

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A post shared by Poonam Pandey (@poonampandeyreal)

This news exploded across all across the internet and brought with it an almost unanimous outcry and outrage. The hashtag #PoonamPandey attracted more than 60 thousand posts on X (formerly Twitter), with the vast majority of them criticizing the actor.

Worst publicity stunt ever,” said one user.

“This was the most ridiculous way to promote something,” another wrote.
Yet another user called Poonam “the biggest fraud”.

Celebrities have also criticized her marketing stunt, with Ashoke Pandit calling for a case to be filed against her for spreading fake news and trivializing a serious health issue. “It is sad and shocking when an actress announces her death because of cervical cancer. She has played with the emotions of people. She has made fun of all those who are battling the disease of cervical cancer, which is a very serious disease. It also blocks the hard work to see that the government of India, the medical practitioners, the doctors, and the nurses are together fighting this battle of cancer. I, with my full honesty, would like law enforcement agencies to take action against this actress. A case should be filled against her for speaking lies to the nation and industry, who are sad, and for no rhyme or reason she mocked their emotions.”

Other celebrities include Kangana Ranaut, Vivek Agnihotri, Ram Gopal Varma, Nikko Tamboli, and many more.

Users also criticized Indian media and news outlets for repeating the news of her death without verification.

Despite the sea of criticism, there were a few voices raised in defense of the actress, who claimed that regardless of the execution, she managed to achieve her goal. “”#PoonamPandey is alive. She wanted to spread awareness about Cervical Cancer. Because of her effort yesterday millions talked about cervical cancer. Hats off to her.”

However, users have pushed back against this justification, expressing their disgust that anyone would attempt to excuse her actions in such a manner. Several medical professionals have also criticized Poonam’s marketing stunt, calling it unprofessional and ultimately detrimental to the cause.

 

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Schbang, the digital marketing agency behind this marketing stunt, has taken to Instagram to release their “Statement” on the incident, emphasizing their purpose on raising awareness and how they have apparently accomplished their mission.

 

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A post shared by Schbang (@schbang)

However, people remained unconvinced and disgusted by their justification. “Showing google metrics for a to justify a cheap act, you can do better,” one user wrote. “An apology that starts with ‘Nevertheless’ isn’t a true apology. Neither is one followed by an excuse.” another emphasized.

Despite the national and international backlash, neither Poonam nor Schbang have taken down the posts of their campaign from social media.