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in newspapers or on the Web that are used by families to arrange
suitable alliances, and you will see that most potential grooms and
their families are looking for “fair” brides; some even are progressive
enough to invite responses from women belonging to a
different caste. These ads, hundreds of which appear in India’s
daily newspapers, refl ect attempts to solicit individuals with the
appropriate religion, caste, regional ancestry, professional and
educational qualifi cations, and, frequently, skin color. Even in the
growing numbers of ads that announce “caste no bar,” the adjective
“fair” regularly precedes professional qualifi cations. In everyday
conversation, the ultimate compliment on someone’s looks is to
say someone is gora (fair). “I have no problem with people wanting
to be lighter,” said a Delhi beauty parlor owner, Saroj Nath. “It
doesn’t make you racist, any more than trying to make yourself
look younger makes you ageist.”
Bollywood (India’s Hollywood) glorifi es conventions on beauty
by always casting a fair-skinned actress in the role of heroine, surrounded
by the darkest extras. Women want to use whiteners because
it is “aspirational, like losing weight.”
Even the gods supposedly lament their dark complexion—
Krishna sings plaintively, “Radha kyoon gori, main kyoon kala?
(Why is Radha so fair when I’m dark?).” A skin defi cient in
melanin (the pigment that determines the skin’s brown color)
is an ancient predilection. More than 3,500 years ago, Charaka,
the famous sage, wrote about herbs that could help make the
skin fair.
Indian dermatologists maintain that fairness products cannot
truly work as they reach only the upper layers of the skin and so
do not affect melanin production. Nevertheless, for some, Fair &
Lovely is a “miracle worker.” A user gushes that “The last time
I went to my parents’ home, I got compliments on my fair skin
from everyone.” For others, there is only disappointment. One
26-year-old working woman has been a regular user for the past
eight years but to no avail. “I should have turned into Snow
White by now but my skin is still the same wheatish color.” As
an owner of a public relations fi rm commented, “My maid has
been using Fair and Lovely for years and I still can’t see her in
the dark . . .. But she goes on using it. Hope springs eternal, I
suppose.”
The number of Indians who think lighter skin is more beautiful
may be shrinking. Sumit Isralni, a 22-year-old hair designer in his
father’s salon, thinks things have changed in the last two years,
at least in India’s most cosmopolitan cities, Delhi, Mumbai, and
Bangalore. Women now “prefer their own complexion, their natural
way” Isralni says; he prefers a more “Indian beauty” himself: “I
won’t judge my wife on how fair her complexion is.” Sunita Gupta,
a beautician in the same salon, is more critical. “It’s just foolishness!”
she exclaimed. The premise of the ads that women could
not become airline attendants if they are dark-skinned was wrong,
she said. “Nowadays people like black beauty.” It is a truism that
women, especially in the tropics, desire to be a shade fairer, no
matter what their skin color. Yet, unlike the approach used in India,
advertisements elsewhere usually show how to use the product and
how it works.
Cultural Norms, Fair & Lovely, and
Advertising
CASE 22
Fair & Lovely, a branded product of Hindustan Lever Ltd. (HLL),
is touted as a cosmetic that lightens skin color. On its Web site
(www.hll.com), the company calls its product “the miracle
worker,” “proven to deliver one to three shades of change.” While
tanning is the rage in Western countries, skin lightening treatments
are popular in Asia.
According to industry sources, the top-selling skin lightening
cream in India is Fair & Lovely from Hindustan Lever Ltd.
(HLL), followed by CavinKare’s Fairever brand. HLL’s Fair &
Lovely brand dominated the market with a 90 percent share until
CavinKare Ltd. (CKL) launched Fairever. In just two years, the
Fairever brand gained an impressive 15 percent market share.
HLL’s share of market for the Fair & Lovely line generates about
$60 million annually. The product sells for about 23 rupees ($0.29)
for a 25-gram tube of cream.
The rapid growth of CavinKare’s Fairever (www.cavinkare
.com) brand prompted HLL to increase its advertising effort and to
launch a series of ads depicting a “fairer girl gets the boy theme.”
One advertisement featured a fi nancially strapped father lamenting
his fate, saying, “If only I had a son,” while his dark-skinned daughter
looks on, helpless and demoralized because she can’t bear the fi -
nancial responsibility of her family. Fast-forward and plain Jane has
been transformed into a gorgeous light-skinned woman through the
use of a “fairness cream,” Fair & Lovely. Now clad in a miniskirt,
the woman is a successful fl ight attendant and can take her father to
dine at a fi ve-star hotel. She’s happy and so is her father.
In another ad, two attractive young women are sitting in a bedroom;
one has a boyfriend and, consequently, is happy. The darkerskinned
woman, lacking a boyfriend, is not happy. Her friend’s
advice—Use a bar of soap to wash away the dark skin that’s keeping
men from fl ocking to her.
HLL’s series of ads provoked CavinKare Ltd. to counter with an
ad that takes a dig at HLL’s Fair & Lovely ad. CavinKare’s ad has
a father–daughter duo as the protagonists, with the father shown
encouraging the daughter to be an achiever irrespective of her
complexion. CavinKare maintained that the objective of its new
commercial is not to take a dig at Fair & Lovely but to “reinforce
Fairever’s positioning.”
Skin color is a powerful theme in India, and much of Asia,
where a lighter color represents a higher status. While Americans
and Europeans fl ock to tanning salons, many across Asia seek
ways to have “fair” complexions. Culturally, fair skin is associated
with positive values that relate to class and beauty. One Indian lady
commented that when she was growing up, her mother forbade
her to go outdoors. She was not trying to keep her daughter out of
trouble but was trying to keep her skin from getting dark.
Brahmins, the priestly caste at the top of the social hierarchy,
are considered fair because they traditionally stayed inside, poring
over books. The undercaste at the bottom of the ladder are
regarded as the darkest people because they customarily worked
in the searing sun. Ancient Hindu scriptures and modern poetry
eulogize women endowed with skin made of white marble.
Skin color is closely identifi ed with caste and is laden with
symbolism. Pursue any of the “grooms” and “brides wanted” ads

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Replies to This Discussion

 strt plzz 

Answer: We know that the words effective and efficient are not the same words.Fullifilling a goal by using all the resources is called effective while fullfilling a the same goal using lowest possibl resources is called efficient.So in general selling a product that is not or only slightly effective, while pretending that it is efficient, is unethical. Particularly, in case a vendor is cheating on the customer and capitalizes on people’s misery. However, the question of good or bad ethics in this context depends very much on the setting and the cultural circumstances of producer and consumer as well as on the product itself. The present case dealing with HLL as well as CKL, the established vendors of skin lighting cream on the Indian market for many years, illustrates a situation in which the producer encounters the consumers´ strongly culturally positioned desire of fair skin, by offering a skin lightning product, which is from a dermatologist’s point of view considered to be ineffective (“reaches only the upper layer of the skin”, “does not affect melanin production and gives a poor result”) or at least short-lived (“whitens facial hair and not the skin”). Nevertheless, Indian women keep on using these products for years, but will never notice lasting effects. 

So, while considering the consumers´ point of view we need to understand that they use the product to fulfil their desire for societal recognition, particularly by their peers. Therefore, it is less the use of the product but more the psychological effect that the product provides to the consumer. From a managing point of view the advertisement’s aim is to present the product at its best aspect,it is the marketer’s responsibility to anlyze the strengths of the product and find its weaknesses.So from this point of view it is not unethical.

 Q # 2it is ethical to exploit cultural norms and values to promote a product.

Answer

Regarding the issue of selling a product that is mildly effective, I believe that this is an unethical business practice. It was obviously pointed out by Indian dermatologists that fairness products cannot truly work because they only reach the upper layers of the skin and are therefore, unable to effect melanin production. HLL’s marketing tactic were misleading, because they did not represent both the positive and negative feedback from their customers, solely feeding off of and exploiting cultural norms. The company advertised in a way that would mislead the public to believe that their products would make them accepted within a culture divided by social hierarchies, which is also unethical. 

Is it Ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effective? Discuss.
Answer:
There are different reasons behind this.
First, when an organization behaves ethically, customers develop more positive attitudes about the firm, its products, and its services. When marketing practices depart from standards that society considers acceptable, the marketing process becomes less efficient—sometimes it is even interrupted.
Second, ethical abuses frequently lead to pressure (social or government) for institutions to assume greater responsibility for their actions. As a result, consumer interest groups, professional associations, and self-regulatory groups exert considerable influence on marketing. Calls for social responsibility have also subjected marketing practices to a wide range of federal and state regulations designed to either protect consumer rights or to stimulate trade.
There are issues regarding different marketing practices but there should not any ethical issue in selling of products which are mildly effective. Product can be mildly effective to the customers and if customers are not willing to buy it then it is all right for them. But for less effective products, selling those in the market is not ethical is not right.
Fair & Lovely is a product which can be mildly effective, because it is used externally for the beautification purpose. If someone did not use it then that person will not die, as it is not a lifesaving product. It is used to have brighter skin which can be an advantage to someone or can be a desire to someone. There are not any laws that only the lifesaving of most effective product are ethical to sell. Products have various purpose of use. So if someone wants to sell a product which is mildly effective then that should not be recognized as unethical. People are free to do different business. Only because of mildly effective make a business unethical is totally injustice to that business.

2. Is it ethical to exploit cultural norms and values to promote a product? Discuss.
Answer:
Culture:
Culture generally refers to patterns of human activity and the symbolic structures that give such activities significance and importance. Cultures can be "understood as systems of symbols and meanings that even their creators contest, that lack fixed boundaries, that are constantly in flux, and that interact and compete with one another.
Culture is manifested in music, literature, lifestyle, painting and sculpture, theater and film and similar things. Although some people identify culture in terms of consumption and consumer goods (as in high culture, low culture, folk culture, or popular culture), anthropologists understand "culture" to refer not only to consumption goods, but to the general processes which produce such goods and give them meaning, and to the social relationships and practices in which such objects and processes become embedded. For them, culture thus includes art, science, as well as moral systems.
Cultural Norms:
Passed from one generation to the next, cultural norms are the shared, sanctioned, and integrated systems of beliefs and practices that characterize a cultural group. These norms foster reliable guides for daily living and contribute to the health and well-being of the group. As prescriptions for correct and moral behavior, cultural norms lend meaning and coherence to life, as well as the means to achieve a sense of integrity, safety and belonging. Thus, normative beliefs, together with related values and rituals, confer a sense of order and control upon aspects of life that might otherwise appear chaotic or unpredictable.
Cultural Values:
Commonly held standards of what is acceptable or unacceptable, important or unimportant, right or wrong, workable or unworkable, etc., in a community or society.
We have found that there are different values for different culture. In some culture white skin is preferable in some culture black kin is preferable, in some culture sons are preferable and in some culture daughters are preferable and so on. Marketers use these different preferences and try to attract customers by showing customers desire without considering norms and values of any culture. At that time marketers only intention is to earn profit so they try to exploit cultural norms and values.
There are some rules and regulation regarding marketing promotions. There are also some rules regarding advertising. That rules describes what a marketer can do in their advertisement and what a marketer cannot do in their advertisement. It is not ethical to exploit any cultural norms or values through any advertisement. Advertisement is important for marketing promotion but by exploiting any cultural norms and values, it will not be accepted to all.
So we have found that this is not ethical to show or use any kind of advertisement which exploits cultural norms, values and other things to promote any kind of products. If any company does this kind of acts then they will be in a risk of any legal action by any other people and that may also cause a very bad reputation for the company for the future business.

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