A feminine hygiene product invited a backlash when it launched in India in 2012 for promising “fairness” in the groin.
The Unilever-owned brand’s strapline promised: “Life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly fairer and more intimate.”
The 25-second primetime TV commercial depicts an unsatisfied young wife concerned that her husband is more interested in his daily paper than in her. This is presumably, as the ad insinuates, because her vagina is too dark. But after a quick wash with the pH-balanced skin-lightening cleanser, a renewed lust returns to the relationship.
Indian columnist Laskhmi Chaudry led the criticism by lambasting the product on her blog, writing: “The campaign to eliminate the scourge of darkness has extended to every nook and cranny of a woman’s body.”
The Clean & Dry ad director, Alyque Padamsee, called the negative response to the campaign, especially in the media, an overreaction.
“It is hard to deny that fairness creams often get social commentators and activists all worked up. What they should do is take a deep breath and think again,” Padamsee wrote at the time.
"Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer—so what’s the problem? … The only reason I can offer for why people like fairness, is this: if you have two beautiful girls, one of them fair and the other dark, you see the fair girl’s features more clearly. This is because her complexion reflects more light.”