Case Study: Cultural Norms, Fair & Lovely, and Advertising

Topics: Human skin color, Cosmetics, Caste Pages: 7 (2653 words) Published: November 5, 2008
2.1 Is it ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effective?1 2.2 Is it ethical, to exploit cultural norms and values to promote a product?2 2.3 Is the advertising of Fair & Lovely demeaning to women or is it portraying a product not too dissimilar to cosmetics in general?4 2.4 Will have HLL’s Fair & Lovely Foundation be enough to counter charges made by AIDWA?4 2.5 In light of AIDWA’S charges, how would you suggest Fair & Lovely promote its product? Would you response be different if Fairever continues to use “fairness” as a theme of its promotion?5 2.6 Propose a promotion/marketing program that will counter all the arguments and charges against Fair & Lovely and be an effective program.6 2.7 Comment on the change in the two statements by HLL between 2003 and 2005. Do the changes in the statements reflect a change in marketing/advertising strategy?7 2.8 Comment on Shanaz-Husain’s introduction of “fairness cream for the masses” in 2004 in light of AIDWA’s charges.7 3 SUMMARY9


Since 1987, the Indian company Hindustan Lever LTD has developed the revolutio-nary skin lightening technology. With its branded product Fair & Lovely it has been the market leader for several decades (, 2007). In the Indian culture fair skin is associated with positive values like class, beauty and wealth. The Indian skin care market is growing rapidly. Between 2001 and 2007 the growth rate had risen by 42.7 percents to $318 million market. With skin lighting creams as most popular products the sales of Fair and Lovely have been growing about 20 per-cent every year (Timmons, 2008). The high demand of skin lighting creams implicates a stronger competition with ex-isting competitors and new market entrants. One of these competitors is Cavin Kare with its brand “Fairever”. After entering the market Cavin Kare reached a market share of 15 percent (, 2008). It was obvious for HLL to radicalize its advertising by showing very provocative ads. After the company has been criticized that their commercial “were racist, they were promoting son preference and they were insulting to working women”, HLL with-draw its TV campaign. Due to the case it provides much space for discussions.

2.1 Is it ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effec-tive? First of all I would like to define the term “ethical”. Something is “ethical” if it is of or based on a system of moral beliefs about right and wrong (Kaldewey, 1984). To come back to the question, from my point of view it is not ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effective. The product which is mentioned in the case is a cosmetic that lightens skin color. It is promoted as “the miracle worker” which can deliver your skin a difference from one to three shades. According to the new Fair & Lovely technology ad, the cream is supposed to change your skin even in four weeks. However, Indian dermatologists explain “that fairness products cannot truly work as they reach only the upper layers of the skin and so do not affect melanin production”. Moreover experts state, the main reason why people believe that the cream is work-ing, is a bleaching ingredient which just whitens facial hair and not the skin. The result of the product differs quite from what it has been promoted. Therefore, the HLL’s marketing strategy contains some kind of fraud. Referring to our textbook, the company cannot answer the question with “yes”, that the product optimizes the “common good” or benefits of all constituencies. So for me it is not ethical to sell a product which is mildly effective while customers have no clue what the cream is doing to them. In fact HLL should inform their clients how their technology works and which ingredients they use. If there is clearness, customers have access to any information and the product does not harm people than it is...

Bibliography: Beech, J., & Chadwick, S. (2004). The business of Sport Management. USA: Financial Times/ Prentice Hall
Böck, M. & Rao A. (1995). Aspekte der Gesellschaftsstruktur Indiens: Kasten und Stämme. (P. 112-131) In Dietmar Rothermund: Indien. München: Beck (2008). Cavin Kare (2008). Hindustan Unilever Limited
Kaldewey, R. (1984). Grundwissen Religion. München: Kösel
Timmons, Heather (2007). Telling India’s Modern Women They Have Power, Even Over Their Skin Tone. The New York Times.
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