It announced that it will drop the word Fair from its name and restrict using discriminatory White/Whitening', Light/Lightening from all its packs and communications. It soon renamed the brand to Glow & Lovely as a reactive measure to an uprising. A few experts rejoiced this move, while some expected HUL to drop the product completely that stands for colourism in India.
To make sure consumers dont forget Fair & Lovely is now Glow & Lovely, the advertisement illustrates the transition to the new name twice -- to really hammer it in the consumer's minds.
Vani Gupta Dandia, Founder, CherryPeachPlum Growth Partners - a marketing-led business consultancy said the steps HUL took till here -- to establish its transformation -- were fine.
Telling us further how she would have gone about establishing the identity change in the market, Dandia said, If I were the business head, I'd first spend a lot of money on just ensuring that the name change be registered. I'd do that with small edits - 5 and 10 seconders. And use other media similarly. High frequency, high recency modeling. However, quickly justifying the name with a tacky reason to believe undermines the intelligence of consumers. It does sound like the same old in a new bottle - worse still justified with the same old science. So are you telling me you can provide just about any benefit with the same old science? What is the difference between Fairness and Glow? If we were to respect consumers' intelligence, would we not like to explain why glow or radiance is aspirational?
So, Vani Gupta Dandia also expected to see a bolder advertisement this time, that truly empowers women.
Fair & Lovely has offered glowing skin in the past as well and its packaging style hasnt changed either.
This was an opportunity for HUL to include darker-skinned models in the ad and win millions of hearts. It wasnt something new that a brand in India would have experimented with. Dove India has changed its narrative from selling milky skin to offering a bar that cleanses. However, there is still a void for an inclusive beauty brand in India that celebrates diversity, skin colours, body types and body hair in its truest form and HUL, a giant that holds a lot of influence in our country, could have led that narrative.
Fair/Glow & Lovely's actual buyers are mainly dispersed in the small towns of India. Karthik Srinivasan, Social Media Expert and Independent Brand Consultant, said that Glow & Lovelys target audience perhaps doesn't really care for its name, they care more about making their skin whiter or fairer.
Srinivasan said, The product, no matter what it is called, has set the notion that being fair is the ticket to success in life. The change in name was mandated by global standards of 'saying the right thing' and is hardly indicative of the product's or the parent company's stand to offer meaningful change on the ground. The addition of that laughably silly assertion - that you will now get HD glow - further hammers the fact that there is no change, beyond a name. It also leads one to question, albeit pointlessly, if the earlier named cream offered only standard definition glow! Beyond very few marketing media, I really don't think anyone really cares for either the name change or the new ad. And HUL knows this all too well - the actual consumers of the product only see the product benefit that is imprinted in their mind.
Fair & Lovely has been in India for over 45 years now and has been one of the best-selling creams. According to The Drum, Fair & Lovely had entered the Rs 200 crore market back in 2017 and held a 60-70% share of the skin whitening industry.
Ronita Mitra, Business Consultant - Founder, Brand Eagle Consulting, said, The new communication is a rational communication with its primary objective being an announcement of the change in brand name. The name change through the branding on the pack as well as the TVC is being communicated very emphatically. One can see that continuity has been maintained in all other aspects, understandably so, in order to seamlessly migrate existing consumers and equity to the new brand. In the foreseeable future, the identity in the consumers' minds will, in all probability, continue to be that of the erstwhile Fair & Lovely identity.
Chawla thinks dark-skinned women of our country deserve an apology from fairness skin brands.
Suggesting how HUL can undo the damage it has done, Chawla said, The brand has a great opportunity to break the barriers of social conditioning pertinent to skin colour, and perhaps repair the damage done over the years to the psyche of dark skinned women. They can do so many things - from issuing a simple apology, to repositioning and overhauling the brand name, colours, key messaging. Conglomerates have the potential to change social perceptions. It is time they invested in the same. And on the social media front, the ad has a lot of potential to invite sufficient trolling and criticism, but honestly, the beauty of this change needs to go beyond skin deep.
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