Company News, Marketing News

Skin Whitener Goes Too Far

Racist video pulled in Thailand.

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By: Tom Branna

Skin Whitener Goes Too Far

Winners aren't racist and their messages aren't appearing in Thailand media. A Thai cosmetics company quickly pulled a video in which an actress wears blackface and promotes a skin whitener with the slogan: “You just need to be white to win.” The retraction did little, however, to stem a debate the ad ignited about the regularity of racist advertisements in the country.
 

The online ad for the new product called “Snowz” featured porcelain-skinned Thai movie star Cris Horwang talking about being an aging actress in a competitive industry.


“If I stopped looking after myself, everything that I have worked for — all the investment I have made to keep myself white — would disappear,” says the 35-year-old actress. “New stars would replace me, I would fade away.” As she speaks, a smiling, younger woman enters the picture and Cris' own image darkens to charcoal black.


A male voice says, “You just need to be white to win.”


A tirade of criticism erupted after the video was launched online Thursday. Online commentators labeled the ad as racist and ignorant, while some heaped criticism on the actress for accepting the job. Others called it a strategic way to attract wide attention and boost sales. Still, the company behind the ad has seen the light.


Thai cosmetics company Seoul Secret issued a “heartfelt apology” in a statement today saying it had pulled the video clip and related advertisements.


“Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages,” the statement posted on its Facebook page said. “What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills and professionalism is crucial.”


The ad is hardly the first to use racial stereotypes in Thailand, where beauty is often characterized as fair and delicate. Darker skin is often associated with rural lower-class Thais, and the country has an enormous industry in skin-whitening products and cosmetic clinics to help customers emulate the porcelain complexions of the Bangkok elite.


 

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