Why is everyone criticising brand Fair & Lovely ? Its just marketing, right ?- by Jasravee K Chandra

The debate has been on. Fair & Lovely vs the society, and both have spoken. And both are right in some way! A perspective below.

Fair And Lovely’s (possible) point of view

"I have stood for fairness. It does have value in the society. It does get people attention, confidence and opportunities. So I became an agent delivering fairness. I speak about women empowerment and I walk the talk with ‘FAL career foundation’. Right ? Whats wrong here !

Also I have changed and evolved every time you (consumers) have changed. Remember how earlier I used to be an external agent of transformation?

Now, again as the need emerged, I have changed by dropping ‘fair’ and ‘the synonyms’. Right ? Whats wrong? And oh yes, from now on, I will have a more ‘inclusive view on beauty’ !"

Society’s point of view

"Thats all right. You have been trying to evolve with us.

You tried to transfer the power into my (consumer’s) hands, rather than being an external agent of transformation. Especially when brands like #Garnier came and changed the landscape and changed forever how we talked about skin and skin-care.

Now again there have been petitions in context of #blacklivesmatter and you have taken note and taken a drastic step. Removing fair from the name and all synonyms from product action, descriptors etc.

But the single most factor that makes us uncomfortable #FAL, is when you try and play a BIGGER ROLE in our lives. Our young impressionable girls in the heartland look at your fairness promises and related Career Foundation initiatives and want that fairness bad! Can you see that this exploits their insecurities ?"

So here are some thoughts/ questions as a brand strategy practitioner, and perhaps a big brand Fair & Lovely’s dilemmas as well.

1. Its a reaction after the J&J announcement and the petition

You did it after a J&J did and a 15,000 people petition (on change.org) emerged. So it was a reaction  We expect more from you dear FAL. You have always known consumers have a voice and we believed you were listening…

2. Who is this change for and what will it achieve ?

Your current consumers will pick up the product for same reasons and same benefits. New age consumers likely to stay away as the new ethos of beauty is skin-colour free. Also the skin colour bias takes source in racism and associated injustice. Nobody is forgetting the 45 years of standing for fairness (that can get you a admiration/ job/ a boy)

3. So is it possible for you to change direction?

A big fairness brand cannot suddenly stand for something else. What does a more inclusive view of beauty imply ? What will you talk about ? How will you walk the talk here ? You have already been talking ‘Nikhar' and ‘hydration’ and ‘sun-protection’. All your consumers know that these are value additions. You stand for fairness.

Whatever Fair & Lovely does, it will need to synergise intentions, communication and action. A tough challenge for a big brand that is so deeply entrenched in our psyche. And there are no middle paths!

What is at stake…just …A Legacy ? A Relationship ? ....Brand Integrity itself?