New Delhi: Vini Cosmetics Pvt. Ltd, the maker of Fogg deodorants, is seeking to debunk fairness-related myths in the advertising campaign it is running for its newly launched skincare brand Pretty 24.

Vini is positioning the brand as a product for every skin tone in the television spot made by advertising agency The Womb, which features four women with different skin tones talking about how skin creams in India offer false hope to young women by promising to make them fairer.

The ad takes a potshot at various narratives associated with fairness advertising in India. The ad ends with a product shot of Pretty 24, which is billed as a cream for every skin tone. The brand targets women between 20 and 35 years of age.

“Our consumer research stated that there is a set of consumer base looking for alternative to fairness creams. Fairness creams are not only discriminatory in nature they also gives false hopes to consumers because no cream can change the natural skin colour. Therefore, through this brand campaign, we want to promote Pretty 24, which will improve the quality of the skin and debunk various myths associated with fairness," said Darshan Patel, founder, Vini Cosmetics.

In the first phase of promotions, the company is leveraging television advertising, promoting the spot across TV on general entertainment channels (GECs), news and music channels. The company will evaluate the response to the product and campaign before releasing it on multiple platforms.

The fairness product market is Rs4,000 crore strong with brands like Hindustan Unilever owned Fair & Lovely, Emami’s Fair & Handsome for men, as well as Garnier from L’Oreal selling face washes, creams and lotions for both men and women. While these products do brisk sales, their advertising which often links fairness to success (both personal and professional), and has been criticized for being discriminatory.

In fact, in 2014 advertising industry’s self-regulatory body Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), issued elaborate guidelines for fairness advertising, urging advertisers to refrain from reinforcing negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour. It clearly stated that fairness 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 and promotions.

Interestingly, while HUL’s Dove campaign has championed the concept of self worth, it has received flak for its fairness cream brand Fair & Lovely’s advertising. The company has stopped linking fairness to professional and personal success of women.

Apart from multi-national firms, Hyderabad-based ayurvedic hair and skin care brand Banjara’s also took an anti-fairness stand in its ‘Proud of my colour’ campaign released last year. The ad captures the concern and apprehensions that older family members have about skin colour, especially when it comes to their daughters and marriage.

“There is an element of shame that is often attached with dark skin tone in India. We want to change it but it’s a long haul which needs sustained effort not just from Banjara’s but several other brands. The addiction to fairness comes from 40 years of advertising where brands have associated fairness with professional or personal success. Still, I feel a lot of tokenism is going on where brands might take to progressive advertising but they continue to sell products which promote fairness," said Ramesh Vishwanathan, managing director, Banjara’s.

Close