All’s not fair in fairness cream advertising
A new ad campaign featuring Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Neha Dhupia has viewers’ curiosity piqued with its almost soap opera feel, with each advert dealing with a new episode in their love triangle.
The story so far: Chopra and Khan were once together, and Chopra still carries a flame for him, and half a heart-shaped locket. Khan, who has the other half of the locket, is about to propose to Dhupia, but also still has feelings for Chopra. Incensed Dhupia dumps Khan, and in the latest episode Chopra was looking for Khan at the airport.
So here’s the $1 million question: What was keeping them apart? You’ll never guess: Chopra’s dark complexion that lost out to fairer-skinned Dhupia.
The campaign for Hindustan Unilever’s Pond’s White Beauty will have us believe Chopra’s “wheatish” complexion – the polite term still used in Indian matrimonial ads – is the only reason she is not with her one true love.
But never fear, Priyanka, for Pond’s White Beauty with lycopene is here. Watch the four episodes so far of Kabhi Kabhi Pyaar Mein here
These ads have only multiplied in recent years, as more cosmetics makers clamber onto the bandwagon for fairness cream which in adverts magically make women more desirable, successful and modern.
Shops stack a dizzying array of fairness creams and lotions from home-grown majors and multinationals alike. But in one way they are really fair — they now make them for men, too. The advertising, however, has guys biking on dirt roads or hanging out with their macho buddies.
Fairness creams are a multi-billion rupee industry in India, and Fair & Lovely, the original launched in 1978, is a blockbuster product for Hindustan Unilever.
Perhaps there is a case for a product that clearly has a demand in a country that places such a premium on fair skin. Has their increasing popularity anything to do with the asipirations of millions of Indians in an increasingly globalised world? And what about their advertising?
“There is too large a population that equates fairness with beauty and superiority,” said Kiran Khalap, co-founder of brand consultancy Chlorophyll.
“It is so ingrained in our culture and sensibility, it is hard to imagine where the advertising can go from here.”
Chopra, in a promotion for the ad campaign says: “Love makes the world go round … Pond’s White Beauty gives it a helping hand.”
In love, all’s only fair, it seems.