Leeford Healthcare’s Meglow, a fairness cream for men, has come out with a new communication featuring Bollywood actor Emraan Hashmi. It starts with one of the usual category clichés regarding a man getting a job rejection at which point his friend (Hashmi) offers him the fairness cream. On using it, he turns fair and enters the interview room brimming with confidence. But unlike other fairness commercials, this one comes with an interesting twist; he doesn’t get the job offer even after lightening up a few shades.
Dejected, he comes out of the interview room and Emraan shows him that the job has been given to a darker complexioned man, who is shown getting congratulated by friends. It ends with Hashmi telling his friend, ‘You need qualifications to bag a job, not fairness’.
Click here to view the ad:
Fairness products ads from big brands like Fair and Lovely, Fair and Handsome and others have always claimed to be able to brighten up the complexion of dark-skinned people in a very short period of time. The tone has always been demeaning and misleading – often projecting the idea that one needs a fair complexion to achieve professional success or get married easily.
In January, in keeping with the ASCI’s Consumer Complaints Council report, the body had pulled up one of Meglow’s ads because it was found to be misleading. The advertisement claimed to contain crystal brightening essence and SPF 15 – UVA / UVB. It also stated that one can get immense fairness from using Meglow Facewash and Meglow Fairness Cream twice, daily.
Following this, Meglow decided to alter their stance. Commenting on the stance taken by the regulatory body, Shweta Purandare, Secretary General, ASCI said, “After we came out with the guidelines for using fairness products in commercials, the dos and don’ts’ were conveyed very clearly. So now companies are refraining from showing dark complexioned people as unsuccessful or unhappy and fairness being the only remedy.”
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 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.