The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory body for the Indian advertising industry has released a set of final guidelines for the advertising of skin lightening and fairness products after seeking industry and public feedback to a draft it had issued earlier. ASCI's new guidelines will go a long way in ensuring that advertisements of products in this category do not depict people with dark skin as somehow inferior to those who are fairer.
The following guidelines will be used when creating and assessing advertisements in this category:
• The advertising should not communicate any discrimination as a result of skin colour. These ads should not reinforce negative social stereotyping on the basis of skin colour. Specifically, advertising should not directly or implicitly show people with darker skin, in a way, which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned. These ads should not portray people with darker skin, in a way which is widely seen as, at a disadvantage of any kind, or inferior, or unsuccessful in any aspect of life particularly in relation to being attractive to the opposite sex, matrimony, job placement, promotions and other prospects.
• In the pre-usage depiction of product, special care should be taken to ensure that the expression of the model/s in the real and graphical representation should not be negative in a way, which is widely seen as unattractive, unhappy, depressed or concerned.
• The advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity.
• It should not perpetuate gender-based discrimination because of skin colour.
Earlier, in June 2014, the Consumer Complaints Council (CCC), a self-regulatory industry body that belongs to the ASCI, had drafted four new guidelines that pertain to the advertising of skin lightening and fairness products.
The guidelines were drafted and displayed on ASCI's website. The objective was to invite comments from the stakeholders in the industry. Although ASCI code's Chapter III 1b already states that advertisements should not deride race, caste, color, creed or nationality, given how widespread the advertising for fairness and skin lightening products is, the body felt the need to frame specific guidelines for this product category.