The campaign seeks to promote the brand’s product offering via the unusual step of actively rejecting the dominant domestic narrative that considers darker skin to be socially undesirable.
It was launched earlier this month in the south of the country, with a video dubbed ‘Be fair to your loved ones’ that negatively depicts familial pressure on a young woman to lighten her skin.
The video has so far generated more than 2.5 million views since it was posted online, suggesting Banjara’s has tapped into a strong marketing opportunity being offered by shifting social values.
Until recently, India has proved a market where consumer brands could profit from tapping into traditional social values; Banjara’s marketing campaign, in contrast, appears to be part of an ongoing shift against this trend.
Ramesh Vishwanathan, MD of Banjara’s, explained: “The focus of skin products should be on healthy skin and not skin lightening.”
In similar moves towards ‘counter-culture’ marketing, Dove recently launched its Real Beauty campaign in the country (which likewise embraces the idea of ‘natural beauty’), while leading domestic brand Emami just launched a male grooming brand which rejects traditional notions of masculinity.
With increasing numbers of brands getting in on the act, it seems companies’ moves to push against traditional narratives may be a sign that collective values in the country are beginning to shift on a broad scale.
Skin whitening has long been a big segment for beauty and personal care in Asia, both because of traditional notions of social ranking attached to skin tone and because in the region, skin pigmentation is a key sign of ageing.
“Skin whiteners are not products to make people look Caucasian,” industry expert Dr Alain Khaiat recently explained to Cosmetics Design. “They are used to even the skin tone. In Asia, skin whitening is about getting rid of the signs of ageing.”
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