Sasha Chettri, 19, better known as the Airtel 4G girl, is one of the most disliked people on the Indian internet. The teenaged musician and actress from Dehradun, India, has become the poster child for a telecom company that has earned itself a reputation as one of the most hated brands in the country.
Chettri began her acting and modelling career in April of last year and was offered a role in Airtel network’s nationwide TV campaign launched in August 2015. She was featured in commercials as an Airtel-promoting character who disrupted people’s daily lives to advertise Airtel 4G.
According to Times of India, those ads were relentlessly streamed into the homes of India, a country with a population of 1.2 billion people. In a report by the Broadcast Audience Research Council India (BARC), Airtel 4G ads featuring Chettri were aired 54,506 times between Sept. 19 and Nov. 20, 2015.
Within those two months, the teenager was featured on television for nearly 475 hours or approximately 20 days straight. Shockingly enough, Chettri got more airtime than most celebrities.
A recent study found Airtel to be the most despised brand in India, with Chettri’s character cited as the reason for that.
Airtel was her first campaign in a lead role. Chettri told AFAQ she was in disbelief when she received a callback for the part:
“I did not even want to audition, because I had cut my waist-length hair very short, and I didn’t think they’d take me. Even when I was shortlisted, I thought it was a joke.”
Agnello Dias, chairman and cofounder of advertising agency Taproot India, provided insight into why she was chosen for the part:
“For the role, we were looking for someone who was confident, could strike a conversation with anyone and did not look like a professional model. We did not plan to take someone unconventional, but we liked the chemistry she had with the camera.”
The 19-year-old told Buzzfeed that she did not foresee the negative publicity tied to the campaign:
“No one ever saw the campaign getting so big. And I didn’t either. So, well, I didn’t think the ads would get such a reaction.”
Unfortunately for Chettri, she has received backlash for playing the character on Airtel’s 4G ads. However, she doesn’t take it to heart, as she told Buzzfeed:
“I get trolled, a lot, but I guess that’s just natural. I don’t take it personally. I mean people like you, hate you, love you … I’m just doing my job.”
Chettri is a graduate in advertising of Xavier’s Institute of Communications Mumbai and worked as a trainee copywriter before landing the part in Airtel’s campaign. After her copywriting stint with Creativeland Asia, Chettri went on to pursue her passion in music through composition and signing. Her album is scheduled to be released soon.