The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body, has released a set of guidelines for advertising skin lightening and fairness products in India. It had circulated draft guidelines in June 2014. The final guidelines are based on industry and public feedback. As per the new guidelines, advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. “These ads should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour.” “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.”
Further, in the pre-usage depiction of product, special care should be taken to ensure that “the expression of the model/s in the real and graphical representation should not be negative in a way which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned.”
ASCI guidelines say that advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity and advertising “should not perpetuate gender based discrimination because of skin colour.”
“Setting up these new guidelines for the skin lightening & fairness products will help advertisers comply with ASCI code’s Chapter III1b which states that advertisements should not deride any race, caste, colour, creed or nationality,’’ Partha Rakshi, Chairman, ASCI, said in a statement. The size of the fairness and skin lightening products market is around Rs.4,000 crore and the advertising spend is around Rs.600 crore.