Most Indian’s have an unreasonable obsession for fair skin and brands for years have been encashing on this social reality by introducing new products that promise fairer skin . The ads mostly encourage the notion that a fair girl is the definition of a beautiful girl and a lighter skin tone will ensure that she goes through a hassle free life. However, in the last few years, communication in the category has evolved, with ASCI laying down strict rules for advertising fairness products.
Banjara’s, a herbal product brand based in South India, has recently launched a campaign titled ‘Be Fair to your loved ones, stop asking them to be FAIR’. With the help of the hashtag #proudofmycolour the brand is promoting their movement against colour biasness in India. Banjara’s attempt is to move the market away from the paradigm of beauty being equivalent to ‘fairness’, a reality which has been exploited for years and emphasised by most skin lightening products in the market. The film, which was launched last week in the south markets, has gone viral and has crossed 2.5 million views and 22,000 shares on Facebook itself.
Click here to view the ad:
Commenting on the objective behind the campaign, Ramesh Vishwanathan, Managing Director, Banjara’s said, “We wanted to change the perception that fair skin does not mean beauty. A woman should feel gorgeous in her natural skin color. The focus of skin products should be on healthy skin and not skin lightening. The highlight of this short film will be to educate people to get over their unhealthy obsession about fairness.”
The campaign, conceptualised by India/2 agency, focuses on how in most cases the pressure to be “fairer” really begins at home. It captures the concerns and apprehensions that older family members have about skin colour, especially when it comes to their daughters and their marriage.
Below are some excerpts from Twitter about the campaign:
Giving his views on the ad, Deepak Singh, Chief Creative Officer, The Social Street said, “In a world where fair skin tones clearly rule the game, I’d think Banjara has taken a bold and a very relevant stand. As far as the film is concerned, they’ve clearly kept in mind the TG and made it simple and easy to understand. The simplicity of the track and the styling of the characters also connects well with the script. Though there surely is scope for improvement. The execution could have been better and the storytelling in the script could have been crisper.Having said that, the good part is that it still leaves a question in the mind of the viewers and makes them think.”
Last year, Leeford Healthcare’s Meglow, a fairness cream for men, launched a different communication in this category featuring actor Emraan Hashmi. It started with one of the usual category clichés where a man who was facing numerous job rejection, starts brimming with confidence the moment he applies the Meglow product. But, there was a twist because the man didn’t get the job even after lightening up a few shades, whereas a darker complexioned man gets it. The commercial highlighted the message that ‘You need qualifications to bag a job, not fairness’.
Click here to view the ad:
ASCI 2014 guidelines
In 2014, ASCI had laid down a new statute and stricter guidelines for advertising fairness products, which stated that they should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. The guidelines further entail that advertising should not “directly or implicitly show people with darker skin in a way which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned. These ads should not portray people with darker skin in a way which is widely seen as at a disadvantage of any kind, or inferior, or unsuccessful in any aspect of life, particularly in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex, matrimony, job placement, promotions and other prospects.”
This essentially meant that any commercial for fairness creams and similar products needs to refrain from typecasting "duskier" individuals as unsuccessful or unattractive, through any form of implication, however indirect.