ASCI to rein in ads featuring skin lightening products

'Advertising should not use post production visual effects on the model/s.'

'Advertising should not use post production visual effects on the model/s.'  

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) draft guidelines advising that fairness and skin lightening products should not communicate any discrimination on grounds of skin colour may be adopted and passed at a board meeting on Thursday.

ASCI felt the need to frame specific guidelines for this product category given how widespread the advertising for these products is as also the concerns of different stakeholders in society.

The draft guidelines state that advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. “Specifically, advertising should not directly or implicitly show people with darker skin as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned. These ads should not portray people with darker skin 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.’’

Further, advertising should not use post production visual effects on the model/s to show exaggerated product efficacy or associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity and should not perpetuate gender-based discrimination based on skin colour, the draft said.

Srinivasan Swamy, Chairman, RK Swamy BBDO and ASCI board member told The Hindu, “Fairness is a large product market of about Rs. 4,000 crore and advertising from it is about Rs. 600 crore.’’

“Fairness products have elicited views ranging from calls to ban them to liberal views that Indians are like this only, but consensus is required from all constituents,’’ Arvind Sharma, outgoing Chairman & CEO, Leo Burnett Advertising & ASCI board member, told The Hindu.

The products are made by several players with Hindustan Unilever’s Fair & Lovely being among the largest selling. While welcoming ASCI’s move, an HUL spokesperson said, “This will help to further promote transparency in advertising in this segment. These guidelines are currently at a draft stage and have been published for seeking industry inputs for the same.''

Emami sells Fair & Handsome targeting male grooming. Mohan Goenka, Director, Emami said, “As a responsible corporate citizen, we do not believe in promotion of social discrimination and racism.”

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 4:20:12 AM |

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