Congratulations to Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL), for boarding the woke bandwagon, by rebranding its 50-year-old product, dropping the single offending word, fair, from its name.
Fair & Lovely will still not be withdrawn from the market. The reason is not far to seek. From this popular emollient, HUL clocks about Rs 4,100 crores in annual sales.
It was the power of social media and fear of civil society cancel culture, however, which compelled HUL to take this step.
The Anglo-Dutch conglomerate is trying to realign its marketing strategies with the new anti-racist, anti-colourist environment in the wake of protests after the death of George Floyd in the United States.
It must make sure you don’t stop buying its product, so it is trying to blind you into buying more instead with virtue signalling and glib activism.
Else, why did it not take note of Kavitha Emmanuel’s Dark is Beautiful campaign in 2009 which did its bit in bringing the idea of diversity of beauty into the public domain?
Just as white skin is preferred to the Indian complexion, so too is credibility attached to ideas that come from the West.
Brand ambassador Yami Gautam, for instance, had justified her decision to endorse the brand by citing the use of fairness and tanning products in the US.
How will she react to this “reform”? Will Emami, with its Fair and Handsome cream, follow in HUL’s footstep? We do not know yet. Will the renaming make a difference to the sale of the product? Perhaps.
There is a chance that it will make the millions of girls and young women cowed by patriarchy and family expectations into seeking it re-examine their hand in the whole fraud.