Gendered Brand Analysis
Glow & Lovely by Unilever
Culture in India: Gendered colorism
India has notoriously been discriminating against people with darker skin tones. This could stem from the time when various invaders such as the Portuguese, Dutch, French, Mughals, British (relatively light-skinned) entered India in the 1400s and ruled over ‘darker’ Indians. Fair skin is often associated with being from a higher social class and financially better. ‘Colorism’ weighs more heavily on women already struggling to be accepted in this patriarchal society. Women have been conditioned to feel that being dark is ugly and will have access to fewer opportunities in terms of career & marriage.
Some cases where gendered colorism is prevalent in India:
Bollywood movies portray the hero as light skin toned and the villain as dark skin toned – and the heroine always has fair skin.
Advertisements for arranged marriages frequently mention ‘looking for a fair bride’.
The marketing & advertising industry almost always uses light skin toned models in their campaigns to depict the ‘most appealing & ideal’.
Brand in focus: Fair & Lovely (now Glow & Lovely) by Unilever
Fair & Lovely is a gendered brand that provides ‘fairness’ solutions for women through skin care products. The use of the colour pink typically associated with the female gender is predominantly used in its branding. The words ‘fair’ and ‘lovely’ are also commonly associated with females.
Fair & Lovely addresses the desire of women to look more beautiful. They created a product which the culture in India demanded due to the rampant discrimination against dark skin. The brand portrays dark skinned women as being insecure and inadequate for society. They suggest fairness as the optimum and the only form of beauty. The brand promotes skin lightening as a means to being more successful in life through ads which depict anecdotes of success in career, social acceptance, love, marriage, etc.
View old brand advertisements video 1 and video 2.
Attempting to be a leading brand in culture:
Facing mass criticism in recent times (spread of BLM movement), Fair & Lovely decided to rebrand itself to ‘Glow & Lovely’ in a bid to be more inclusive and to celebrate all kinds of beauty. They have changed their narrative to offering glowing, even-toned and radiant skin to be confident and be your best self. Glow & Lovely Careers - a foundation has been created to help support women gain access to career opportunities through scholarships, upskilling courses, career guidance etc. But it is still a fairness product and changing the word to ‘glow’ is just a cosmetic change!