In response to the backlash over Fair and Lovely’s decades-long promotion of beauty equals fair skin (especially during the global Black Lives Matter movement) the brand has changed its name to Glow and Lovely, with a campaign celebrating different skin tones and (of course) promoting women empowerment. One of the ways in which the campaign does this is with the song Mitti Ke Sau Rang, which showcases women of different occupations in their element: sportswomen, musicians, photographers and fieldworkers - all using the product.
However, this notion does not sit well with consumers because it is somewhat confusing. It is a big shift to go from endorsing fairness for so many years to not quite endorsing it. The lyrics "ek rang mai, ek rung tu" make the brand message seem inconsistent, because ever since it was released, Fair and Lovely has been marketed as a skin lightening product. Furthermore, the idea of women empowerment is incomplete, as women from an older age bracket have not been showcased in any corporate, literary or educational career. Then there is the fact that the link between the product and women empowerment (the new way for brands to attract the attention of women) is ambiguous - other than showing some of the actors using the product.
Given these limitations, there is also a positive side in that the campaign and the new approach is likely to lead to a better understanding of what constitutes beauty. It is a plus for everyone to see women as agents of change and talent, who can enter different careers and make an impact. So a welcome change in terms of a brand promoting a positive image of the role of young women and encouraging them to use their talents for athletic and creative endeavours, rather than focusing on beauty and appearance.
Although some consumers have welcomed the new brand image it has not entirely been positively received, as it does not take away from the fact that many of them continue to view Fair and Lovely as a skin lightening product. Whether marketed as ‘Fair’ or ‘Glow’, many consumers are of the opinion that changing the product’s name does not change the product. Creating a new image for the brand is likely to take time, as consumers may not associate female empowerment with the product given the theme of their past campaigns. It is unlikely that consumers will be more oriented towards Glow and Lovely for any reason other than viewing the product as a skin lightening cream.
Sana Ahmad Safdar is a graduate in Communication, Culture and Information Technology and Philosophy and a writer.