empowerment or just a marketing ploy to sell products to women of color?

April 26, 2013

Hi guys, please tell us what you think about the piece The New York Times recently published about the Procter & Gamble campaign “My Black Is Beautiful”, their new documentary “Imagine A Future”, while the company also makes/markets skin-bleaching products.
“The documentary does not mention that Olay, a Procter & Gamble brand, markets skin-lightening products all over the world.” “In South Africa, Olay recently introduced a skin-lightening line called Even & Smooth. A new commercial features Gail Nkoane, a singer and actress, who applies the product and is instantly bathed in light, giving the effect of her skin becoming several shades lighter.”
“Efforts like My Black Is Beautiful represent a “new trend among cosmetics corporations to use language that critiques the domination of white beauty standards in order to sell new products to women of color,” writes Margaret Hunter, an associate professor of sociology at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., in an article in The Journal of Pan African Studies in 2011.”
The new documentary is “very engaging and very thought provoking about racism,” Professor Hunter said in an interview after viewing it. “But it’s Procter & Gamble, meaning that some of the money behind the documentary is made off products including skin-lightening products, and that completely undermines and inverts that message.”
Asked about its skin lightening lines, the company issued a response.
“These kinds of products are very popular in Asia and are designed to help women address uneven skin tone, and dullness which may be caused by acne, skin discoloration issues, or overexposure to the environment and help restore the skin’s original tone,” the statement read.
“There is a need to celebrate black beauty and support diversity, and all of our brands view the African-American consumer as a very important consumer,” said Lauren Hoenig, associate marketing director for multicultural marketing at Procter & Gamble. “We know we have to win with African-Americans in order to win.”
Full article available here.