Monday, December 07, 2009

Fairness Creams – An Invention of the Indian Mind

Okay, okay, you are bored of my review of 2009. What has changed and what hasn't changed is subjective, really. Everyone will have an opinion on it in this opinionated nation. Just look at the contestants of Big Boss and you will know what I mean. So I am moving on. So this post is about my favorite whipping boy – advertising.

Television is really spreading the butter thin through their content. The The same ads repeat over and over again. Taste this for example, "Babur ka beta Humayun, Humayun ka Akbar…," etc. Is it some history lesson? Then it is followed by, "You are worth it." Are we? It's misleading. What is really worth is the money we spend for your products. Then "daag ache hain" (stains are good), "have a happy period" about which I have written here. As an advertising practitioner and former Executive Secretary of the ASCI I find a lot wrong with these ads, but I don't have the time to point out what. When I sit through the barrage I wonder why every model in these ads are fair-skinned, has thin lips, almost Western in looks. Come on, no one looks even Indian, the sort you meet on the streets. Do we hate ourselves, and encourage our people to hate themselves? I don't know if such a bias exists in a country other than India. In the only country I lived for a year other than India, the ads were really representative. Even dark models were used.

Well, that could be an existential question, but television is a powerful medium and there are millions who sit through the ads thinking that what is shown is the gospel truth. Almost every brand today has a fairness cream in the market: Garnier, Ponds, Emami, Fair and Lovely, and now even Vaseline and, countless others. I am sure fairness creams are an invention of the Indian mind. Nowhere else would people spend huge amounts of money just to look fairer for a few weeks, at the most. How do I know? Well, I am ashamed to say, I used it, and gave it up. Mea Culpa!


1 comment:

ms said...

the person who came up with fairness being akin to greatness should be tarred and feathered! even SRK has succumbed! and up north, the madness is much worse - and this when they have gods Krsna and Shankar. years ago someone said that a black spot on a fair face is a beauty spot, but vice versa? a sign of a dreaded disease. in the west, such myths don't exist now, but colour is still used as a discriminating tool.