Lighten up (or not) on Facebook!
Be prepared to face the wrath of bloggers and social networkers, if you say something that’s politically incorrect on Facebook. That’s the message that cosmetic major Vaseline seems to be getting these days. The company’s ‘Transform your face’ application to promote its skin-lightening cream has earned negative criticism across the online world. The campaign, promoted by Bollywood star, Shahid Kapoor, allows users to upload their picture, clear the dark spots and whiten the face. This has indeed attracted wide spread criticism as the promotion endorses fairer skin over the darker shade.
Though the campaign primarily targets the South Asian market, bloggers from across the world talked about being ‘uncomfortable’ with this Facebook application. In all ‘fair’ness, we may say, that it’s after all, a promotion for a skin-lightening cream. Nevertheless, companies must keep in mind that social media promotions address large audience demography from across all parts of the world. What seems perfectly normal in one country may be entirely offensive in another culture.
Its true many Indians are obsessed with fair skin and this is a smart promotional strategy is a safe bet with them as is the Shahid Kapoor ad. That’s why the Indian skin-lightening market is worth USD 500 million a year. But globally, racial overtures are considered offensive and that is the reason this Facebook application is not seen in a good light.
Unilever, Vaseline’s parent company has defended the application saying it was “created for the Indian market as a culturally relevant and engaging way for Indian men to interact with this product.” But, keeping the sentiments of the global community in mind would help in garnering a more favorable response from Facebook’s globally-tuned audience.