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ASCI tightens noose on skin whitening and fairness products advertising

The self-regulatory body has issued a set of guidelines based on the feedback from the industry, civil society and the public

BestMediaInfo Bureau | Mumbai | August 21, 2014

asci-logoThe Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body for the advertising industry, has released a set of final guidelines for the advertising of skin lightening and fairness products after seeking industry and public feedback to a draft it had issued earlier.

ASCI’s new guidelines will go a long way in ensuring that advertisements of products in this category do not depict people with dark skin as somehow inferior to those who are fairer.

The following guidelines will be used when creating and assessing advertisements in this category:

  • Advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. These ads should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour. Specifically, advertising should not directly or implicitly show people with darker skin, in a way which is widely seen as, unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned. These ads should not portray people with darker skin, in a way which is widely seen 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.
  • In the pre-usage depiction of product, special care should be taken to ensure that the expression of the model/s in the real and graphical representation should not be negative in a way which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned.
  • Advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity.
  • Advertising should not perpetuate gender based discrimination because of skin colour.

Commenting on the new guidelines, Partha Rakshit, Chairman, ASCI, said, “Setting up these new guidelines for the skin lightening and fairness products will help advertisers comply with ASCI code’s Chapter III 1 b, which states that advertisements should not deride any race, caste, colour, creed or nationality. Given how widespread the advertising for fairness and skin lightening products is and the concerns of different stakeholders in society, ASCI saw the need to set up specific guidelines for this product category. As a self-regulating body, it is important to have the advertisers buy in to the guidelines, and we are happy to note that both the industry and the consumer activist groups have welcomed these guidelines.”

It may be recalled that in June this year, the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC) of ASCI had displayed on ASCI’s website a draft with four new guidelines on advertising of skin lightening and fairness products. The objective was to invite comments from the stakeholders in the industry.

Also read: ASCI issues guidelines on Skin Lightening & Fairness Products advertising

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