Digital agency Schbang has admitted to orchestrating the recent “fake death” stunt of model and actor Poonam Pandey. The controversial move, aimed at raising awareness about cervical cancer, has ignited a debate on the ethics of using such tactics for public health campaigns.
In a statement posted on Instagram, Schbang apologised for their actions, particularly to those who have faced or witnessed the challenges of cancer.
“Yes, we were involved in the initiative for Poonam Pandey to spread awareness about Cervical Cancer in collaboration with Hauterfly. To start off, we would like to extend a heartfelt apology – especially towards those who have been triggered as a result of having faced/having a loved one face the hardships of any kind of Cancer,” a statement read.
“Our actions were driven by a singular mission – to elevate awareness about Cervical Cancer. In 2022, India registered 123,907 Cervical Cancer cases and 77,348 deaths. After Breast Cancer, Cervical Cancer is the second-most frequent malignancy affecting middle aged women in India,” it added.
Ms Pandey’s manager had announced her death due to cervical cancer, causing widespread shock and disbelief. However, she later clarified on Instagram that the news of her death was false, revealing that the stunt was an unconventional attempt to spark a conversation about cervical cancer.
“I am alive. I didn’t die of cervical cancer. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the hundreds and thousands of women who have lost their lives due to cervical cancer,” Ms Pandey said.
The model and actor’s actions, however, have faced severe backlash on social media. Many users criticised her for resorting to extreme measures, accusing her of “faking her death” for publicity.