Skin Whitening and Slavery? Racist Campaigns?

A campaign is defined as a systematic course of aggressive activities for some specific purpose. Companies spend millions of dollars hiring advertisers to create artwork for their product, public relations officials to draft press releases and minimize unforeseen circumstances, and marketing executives to know the potential markets and target them. Campaigns have been the reason companies have stayed afloat during this economic crisis. But what happens when campaigns go to far to achieve success?

The two most recent campaigns launches for the Vaseline Company have come under secrunity from the general public. The company, known for their moisturizing lotions and other skin care products have created and released two new campaigns. The Cocoa Butter Campaign and the Be Prepared Campaign are both campaigns that have been designed and marketed towards minority races.

The Cocoa Butter campaign started off with stories read by an African-American actress Sanaa Lathan about what black women think their skin means to them. From the story entries received, one winner would be able to attend a concert by Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown, Keyshia Cole and Jill Scott.  While the winnings do seem exciting, have we forgotten that black women are not the only users of cocoa butter? The backlash with this campaign stemmed from the slavery references several of the story entries contained.  One entry read, “my ancestors suffered so much, but today here I am, like a queen.” The racial generalization that all black women think their skin relates back to slavery times and their ancestors, sparked a debate among people as to whether Vaseline’s new campaign was too discriminating.

The Be Prepared Campaign was targeted towards Indian men and the need for skin lightening solutions. The campaign started through Facebook India but was shut down after the creation of a skin-lightening application surfaced. The new application enabled Indian male users, or any Facebook user for that matter, to make their skin whiter in their profile pictures. The software was designed to help promote the Be Prepared campaign that was targeted towards skin-lightening creams for men.  Slogans for the campaign read “transform your face on Facebook with Vaseline men. Look whiter on Facebook! Get more chics!”

Since when did it become acceptable for campaigns to promote whiteness over darkness and slavery association over just having beautiful skin? Campaigns must make sure to uphold the values of being unbiased and objective to race and sex when creating awareness for products.

They should make more campaigns that promote racial diversity and equality!

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About Ayan Jama

I am a University of Oregon graduate with a BA in Journalism with a focus in Magazine and Public Relations. I enjoy foreign movies, white chocolate, shoes, and friends & family.
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