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Eye on India

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: August 11, 2014, from the September 2014 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has set up new advertising guidelines for companies and brands selling fairness creams and related products.
  • The growing interest in beauty and personal care in India also is reflecting on the ingredients market for such products, with the desire for natural products helping to drive its growth.
  • Men’s personal care continues to be a large driver in the Indian beauty industry too, with larger and local players looking to take a bit of this market.

A unique and engaging marketplace, the beauty industry in India is growing in importance and prominence on the global stage. And as it is a market with specific products and consumer relationships being continuingly created there, keeping track of its development can strategically play into the betterment of beauty brands at all levels.

Advertising Standards Council of India Sets Rules for Advertising Fairness

After dealing with complaints from individuals and women’s groups against the way skin lightening products and fairness creams were being advertised in India, the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has set up new advertising guidelines for companies and brands selling fairness creams and related products. This affects the entire market for fairness products, including creams, face washes, serums and lotions.

The ASCI official statement says, “There is a strong concern in certain sections of society that advertising of fairness products tends to communicate and perpetuate the notion that dark skin is inferior and undesirable.”

Based on this observation, the governing body has created new rules, including a crucial one that says advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin color. Pursuant to the new rules, these ads should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin color and should not portray people with darker skin as at a disadvantage of any kind, or inferior, or unsuccessful in any aspect of life, particularly in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex, matrimony, job placement, promotions and other prospects.

The other rule says advertising should not use post-production visual effects on the models to show exaggerated product efficacy. More specifically, the pre- and post-product visuals of models should not used special effects to dramatize or exaggerate an advertiser product’s effects so that efficacy depicted is not drastically different than what can be delivered by the product. However, many brands that offer fairness products do seem to continue to show models with obviously retouched skin.

However, with these new regulations in place, the Indian beauty industry expects some of the leading fairness brands to go back to their drawing boards to devise new advertisements that gets the bright skin message across without being disparaging to anybody—and especially to the brand.

New Ambassador for The Body Shop India

The Body Shop India has appointed Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez as its new brand ambassador, representing its range of naturally inspired and ethically produced beauty products.

According to the company, Fernandez was chosen because of her commitment to charity organizations and campaigns for education, human rights and animal cruelty-free causes. David Smith, managing director, Asia Pacific, The Body Shop, said, “For The Body Shop, India is a very important market, and it is one of the fastest growing markets in Asia Pacific, with 115 stores across 40 cities. We are thrilled with this partnership with Jacqueline Fernandez as she embodies everything that the brand stands for—natural beauty coupled with a deep respect for people, animals and the environment. Jacqueline is well loved in India, and we are confident that she will help The Body Shop to further connect with consumers of diverse age groups and backgrounds.”

Fernandez replaces actress Dia Mirza, The Body Shop’s first-ever brand ambassador in India. As the face and voice of The Body Shop India, Fernandez will appear in multimedia campaigns spanning print, in-store, digital and social platforms. The Body Shops India’s first campaign with her was launched in May 2014, with its strawberry body care collection featured.