As previously discussed Unilever, the company that owns Dove, has fallen into hot water regarding the sexist advertising for its male customer based Axe products; however, even more controversial are the products for skin lightening and skin bleaching that Unilever produces. While the message Axe is putting out there is very contradictory to the that of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty, the target market is completely different, they are advertising to a different niche of people, but with the skin lightening products Unilever is marketing to the same group. This means while Dove tells women they are beautiful the way they are, other products such as ” Pond’s Pinkish white” skin lightening cream and “Fair & Lovely” tells women their skin is too dark to be attractive. No, seriously this is exactly what the ads say, take a look…..
This ad basically, very contradictory to the Dove Campaign for real Beauty ads, tells young girls with darker skin in order to success you must have lighter skin. While, some creams are arguably to lighten dark spots such a blemishes or scars, they really are to make women appear lighter and more desirable- according to the ads anyway. Here is an ad for Pond’s ( owned by Unilever also) “Pinkish white”
This ad offers a date with a famous hunk if your results from using the lightening cream are impressive. What have women and young girls learned from these two ads? If you use the lightening creams not only do you find success you also land the hunk… very contradictory to the Dove’s real beauty message.
This is a more serious, and arguably more offensive ad for “Fair & lovely”
In this ad a girl is seen with her father, she is ridiculed by the fair skinned woman at the receptionist’s desk, to which her father does not teach her she is beautiful as is but rather takes her to show her “secret” mixture of things ( Fair & lovely) that will lighten her skin and make her happy.
Both products are owned by Unilever, these products are marketed to the same women that Dove products are market to, the same women who are being told by Dove they are in fact beautiful the way they are, only for “Fair and Lovely” and “Pinkish white” to come and tell them they are too dark.
In 2007 Hindustan Unilever was banned from making television for “Fair & Lovely” because their tactics were becoming so extreme, “Pinkish White” however has signed on many famous Bollywood stars they have even signed former Miss World Priyanka Chopraas their new spokesmodel.
These skin lightening products are primarily marketed to Asian women and Indian women, where in their cultures it is seen as more desirable to have fairer skin. This makes me question is it more desirable because products are marketed so aggressively to say “fairer is better”? Is advertising a mirror to society? Or is society a mirror to advertising? I have to say a little of both, it is an on going cycle.
My stance on this is while of course skin lightening and any kind of skin bleaching is sad, sad because it means people do not feel comfortable even with their skin tone, and perhaps even sadder is the fact there is actually a market to lighten skin, but at the same time I must understand business. If there is a market for it, there will be some company willing to produce and market that product. Because Unilever is a World wide company it must produce products that are in demand, unfortunately skin lightening is in demand, maybe not in America, but in other places, I do not think this or the Axe campaign take away from the positive message of the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty. I think of it this way, Dove is the sister of “Fair & Lovely” and Unilever is the mother, Dove cannot be punished for the actions of her sister “Fair & Lovely”, the analogy isn’t that great but that’s how I see it.