TD Bank has stopped running online advertisements that use the word “desi” to target the South Asian community after at least one person complained about the ads.
Jatin Patel demanded the bank take the ads down after he saw one of them while scrolling through an Indian news app.
“At first, I couldn’t believe my eyes,” Patel said.
“In India, it is used as an offensive term,” he told CBC Toronto, adding that some Indians use the word to describe people as “not very modern” and “from the countryside.”
“Desi” originates from the Sanskrit word “desh,” which means “nation.” It’s commonly used, mostly by young people, to describe people and culture as truly or typically South Asian. It’s even made its way into the titles of many South Asian films.
TD’s ad, which could be seen on both social media platforms and the web, featured videos and pictures with the tagline: “62 per cent of desi Canadians don’t know how much to save for retirement.”
Patel says he gets that TD is attempting to target a specific community, but he believes the wording was “inappropriate and insensitive.”
He immediately contacted the bank to complain about the ad, and TD responded by taking it down the same night.