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All nine questions in 2. above must be answered using 150 words for each question. Explain, discuss and support for each of the questions below. Outside academic resources are strongly encouraged, particularly for questions CSR 4 and Ethics 3


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CASE 22 Cultural Norms, Fair & Lovely, and
Fair & Lovely, a branded product of Hindustan Lever Ltd. (HLL),
is touted as a cosmetic that lightens skin color. On its Web site
(, the company calls its product “the miracle
worker,” “proven to deliver one to three shades of change.” While
tanning is the rage in Western countries, skin lightening treatments
are popular in Asia.
According to industry sources, the top-selling skin lightening cream in India is Fair & Lovely from Hindustan Lever Ltd.
(HLL), followed by CavinKare’s Fairever brand. HLL’s Fair &
Lovely brand dominated the market with a 90 percent share until
CavinKare Ltd. (CKL) launched Fairever. In just two years, the
Fairever brand gained an impressive 15 percent market share.
HLL’s share of market for the Fair & Lovely line generates about
$60 million annually. The product sells for about 23 rupees ($0.29)
for a 25-gram tube of cream.
The rapid growth of CavinKare’s Fairever (www.cavinkare
.com) brand prompted HLL to increase its advertising effort and to
launch a series of ads depicting a “fairer girl gets the boy theme.”
One advertisement featured a financially strapped father lamenting
his fate, saying, “If only I had a son,” while his dark-skinned daughter looks on, helpless and demoralized because she can’t bear the financial responsibility of her family. Fast-forward and plain Jane has
been transformed into a gorgeous light-skinned woman through the
use of a “fairness cream,” Fair & Lovely. Now clad in a miniskirt,
the woman is a successful flight attendant and can take her father to
dine at a five-star hotel. She’s happy and so is her father.
In another ad, two attractive young women are sitting in a bedroom; one has a boyfriend and, consequently, is happy. The darkerskinned woman, lacking a boyfriend, is not happy. Her friend’s
advice—Use a bar of soap to wash away the dark skin that’s keeping men from flocking to her.
HLL’s series of ads provoked CavinKare Ltd. to counter with an
ad that takes a dig at HLL’s Fair & Lovely ad. CavinKare’s ad has
a father–daughter duo as the protagonists, with the father shown
encouraging the daughter to be an achiever irrespective of her
complexion. CavinKare maintained that the objective of its new
commercial is not to take a dig at Fair & Lovely but to “reinforce
Fairever’s positioning.”
Skin color is a powerful theme in India, and much of Asia,
where a lighter color represents a higher status. While Americans
and Europeans flock to tanning salons, many across Asia seek
ways to have “fair” complexions. Culturally, fair skin is associated
with positive values that relate to class and beauty. One Indian lady
commented that when she was growing up, her mother forbade
her to go outdoors. She was not trying to keep her daughter out of
trouble but was trying to keep her skin from getting dark.
Brahmins, the priestly caste at the top of the social hierarchy,
are considered fair because they traditionally stayed inside, poring over books. The undercaste at the bottom of the ladder are
regarded as the darkest people because they customarily worked
in the searing sun. Ancient Hindu scriptures and modern poetry
eulogize women endowed with skin made of white marble.
Skin color is closely identified with caste and is laden with
symbolism. Pursue any of the “grooms” and “brides wanted” ads
cat2994X_case2_019-046.indd 25
in newspapers or on the Web that are used by families to arrange
suitable alliances, and you will see that most potential grooms and
their families are looking for “fair” brides; some even are progressive enough to invite responses from women belonging to a
different caste. These ads, hundreds of which appear in India’s
daily newspapers, reflect attempts to solicit individuals with the
appropriate religion, caste, regional ancestry, professional and
educational qualifications, and, frequently, skin color. Even in the
growing numbers of ads that announce “caste no bar,” the adjective
“fair” regularly precedes professional qualifications. In everyday
conversation, the ultimate compliment on someone’s looks is to
say someone is gora (fair). “I have no problem with people wanting to be lighter,” said a Delhi beauty parlor owner, Saroj Nath. “It
doesn’t make you racist, any more than trying to make yourself
look younger makes you ageist.”
Bollywood (India’s Hollywood) glorifies conventions on beauty
by always casting a fair-skinned actress in the role of heroine, surrounded by the darkest extras. Women want to use whiteners because it is “aspirational, like losing weight.”
Even the gods supposedly lament their dark complexion—
Krishna sings plaintively, “Radha kyoon gori, main kyoon kala?
(Why is Radha so fair when I’m dark?).” A skin deficient in
melanin (the pigment that determines the skin’s brown color)
is an ancient predilection. More than 3,500 years ago, Charaka,
the famous sage, wrote about herbs that could help make the
skin fair.
Indian dermatologists maintain that fairness products cannot
truly work as they reach only the upper layers of the skin and so
do not affect melanin production. Nevertheless, for some, Fair &
Lovely is a “miracle worker.” A user gushes that “The last time
I went to my parents’ home, I got compliments on my fair skin
from everyone.” For others, there is only disappointment. One
26-year-old working woman has been a regular user for the past
eight years but to no avail. “I should have turned into Snow
White by now but my skin is still the same wheatish color.” As
an owner of a public relations firm commented, “My maid has
been using Fair and Lovely for years and I still can’t see her in
the dark . . .. But she goes on using it. Hope springs eternal, I
The number of Indians who think lighter skin is more beautiful
may be shrinking. Sumit Isralni, a 22-year-old hair designer in his
father’s salon, thinks things have changed in the last two years,
at least in India’s most cosmopolitan cities, Delhi, Mumbai, and
Bangalore. Women now “prefer their own complexion, their natural way” Isralni says; he prefers a more “Indian beauty” himself: “I
won’t judge my wife on how fair her complexion is.” Sunita Gupta,
a beautician in the same salon, is more critical. “It’s just foolishness!” she exclaimed. The premise of the ads that women could
not become airline attendants if they are dark-skinned was wrong,
she said. “Nowadays people like black beauty.” It is a truism that
women, especially in the tropics, desire to be a shade fairer, no
matter what their skin color. Yet, unlike the approach used in India,
advertisements elsewhere usually show how to use the product and
how it works.
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Part 6
Supplementary Material
Commenting on the cultural bias toward fair skin, one critic
states, “There are attractive people who go through life feeling
inferior to their fairer sisters. And all because of charming grandmothers and aunts who do not hesitate to make unflattering comparisons. Kalee Kalooti is an oft-heard comment about women
who happen to have darker skin. They get humiliated and mortified
over the color of their skin, a fact over which they have no control. Are societal values responsible? Or advertising campaigns?
Advertising moguls claim they only reflect prevailing attitudes in
India. This is possibly true but what about ethics in advertising? Is
it correct to make advertisements that openly denigrate a majority
of Indian people—the dark-skinned populace? The advertising is
blatant in their strategy. Mock anyone who is not the right color
and shoot down their self-image.”
A dermatologist comments, “Fairness obtained with the help of
creams is short-lived. The main reason being, most of these creams
contain a certain amount of bleaching agent, which whitens facial
hair, and not the skin, which leads people to believe that the cream
worked.” Furthermore, “In India the popularity of a product depends totally on the success of its advertising.”
HLL launched its television ad campaign to promote Fair &
Lovely but withdrew it after four months amid severe criticism for
its portrayal of women. Activists argued that one of the messages
the company sends through its “air hostess” ads demonstrating the
preference for a son who would be able to take on the financial
responsibility for his parents is especially harmful in a country
such as India where gender discrimination is rampant. Another
offense is perpetuating a culture of discrimination in a society
where “fair” is synonymous with “beautiful.” AIDWA (All India
Women’s Democratic Association) lodged a complaint at the time
with HLL about their offensive ads, but Hindustan Lever failed to
The women’s association then appealed to the National Human
Rights Commission alleging that the ad demeaned women.
AIDWA objected to three things: (1) the ads were racist, (2) they
were promoting son preference, and (3) they were insulting to
working women. “The way they portrayed the young woman
who, after using Fair & Lovely, became attractive and therefore
lands a job suggested that the main qualification for a woman to
get a job is the way she looks.” The Human Rights Commission
passed AIDWA’s complaints on to the Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting, which said the campaign violated the Cable
and Television Network Act of 1995—provisions in the act state
that no advertisement shall be permitted which “derides any race,
caste, color, creed and nationality” and that “Women must not
be portrayed in a manner that emphasized passive, submissive
qualities and encourages them to play a subordinate secondary
role in the family and society.” The government issued notices
of the complaints to HLL. After a year-long campaign led by the
AIDWA, Hindustan Lever Limited discontinued two of its television advertisements for Fair & Lovely fairness cold cream.
Shortly after pulling its ads off the air, HLL launched its Fair &
Lovely Foundation, vowing to “encourage economic empowerment of women across India” by providing resources in education
and business to millions of women “who, though immensely talented and capable, need a guiding hand to help them take the leap
forward,” presumably into a fairer future.
HLL sponsored career fairs in over 20 cities across the country offering counseling in as many as 110 careers. It supported
100 rural scholarships for women students passing their 10th
grade, a professional course for aspiring beauticians, and a
cat2994X_case2_019-046.indd 26
three-month Home Healthcare Nursing Assistant course catering to young women between the ages of 18 and 30 years. According to HLL, the Fair & Lovely Academy for Home Care
Nursing Assistants offers a unique training opportunity for
young women who possess no entry-level skills and therefore
are not employable in the new economy job market. The Fair &
Lovely Foundation plans to serve as a catalyst for the economic
empowerment for women across India. The Fair & Lovely Foundation will showcase the achievements of these women not only
to honor them but also to set an example for other women to
AIDWA’s campaign against ads that convey the message, “if
she is not fair in color, she won’t get married or won’t get promoted,” also has resulted in some adjustment to fairness cream
ads. In revised versions of the fairness cream ads, the “get fair to
attract a groom” theme is being reworked with “enhance your selfconfidence” so that a potential groom himself begs for attention. It
is an attempt at typifying the modern Indian woman, who has more
than just marriage on her mind. Advertising focus is now on the
message that lighter skin enables women to obtain jobs conventionally held by men. She is career-oriented, has high aspirations,
and, at the same time, wants to look good. AIDWA concedes that
the current crop of television ads for fairness creams are “not as
demeaning” as ones in the past. However, it remains against the
product; as the president of AIDWA stated, “It is downright racist
to denigrate dark skin.”
Although AIWDA’s campaign against fairness creams seems to
have had a modest impact on changing the advertising message, it has
not slowed the demand for fairness creams. Sales of Fair & Lovely,
for example, have been growing 15 to 20 percent year over year, and
the $318 million market for skin care has grown by 42.7 percent in
the last three years. Says Euromonitor International, a research firm:
“Half of the skin care market in India is fairness creams and 60 to 65
percent of Indian women use these products daily.”
Recently, several Indian companies were extending their
marketing of fairness creams beyond urban and rural markets.
CavinKare’s launch of Fairever, a fairness cream in a small sachet
pack priced at Rs 5, aimed at rural markets where some 320 million Indians reside. Most marketers have found rural markets
impossible to penetrate profitably due to low income levels and
inadequate distribution systems, among other problems. However,
HLL is approaching the market through Project Shakti, a rural initiative that targets small villages with populations of 2,000 people
or less. It empowers underprivileged rural women by providing
income-generating opportunities to sell small, lower priced packets of its brands in villages. Special packaging for the rural market
was designed to provide single-use sachet packets at 50 paise for
a sachet of shampoo to Rs 5 for a fairness cream (for a week’s
usage). The aim is to have 100,000 “Shakti Ammas,” as they
are called, spread across 500,000 villages in India by year end.
CavinKare is growing at 25 percent in rural areas compared with
15 percent in urban centers.
In addition to expanding market effort into rural markets, an
unexpected market arose when a research study revealed Indian
men were applying girlie fairness potions in droves—but on the
sly. It was estimated that 40 percent of boyfriends/husbands of
girlfriends/wives were applying white magic solutions that came
in little tubes. Indian companies spotted a business opportunity,
and Fair & Handsome, Menz Active, Fair One Man, and a male
bleach called Saka were introduced to the male market. The sector
expanded dramatically when Shah Rukh Khan, a highly acclaimed
8/27/10 2:05 PM
Cases 2
The Cultural Environment of Global Marketing
Bollywood actor likened to an Indian Tom Cruise, decided to endorse Fair & Handsome. Euromonitor International forecasts that
in the next five years, spending on men’s grooming products will
rise 24 percent to 14.5 billion rupees, or US$320 million.
A recent product review in, praises Fair &
Lovely fairness cream: “[Fair & Lovely] contains fairness vitamins
which penetrate deep down our skin to give us radiant fairness.” “I
don’t know if it can change the skin color from dark to fair, but my
personal experience is that it works very well, if you have a naturally fair color and want to preserve it without much headache.” “I
think Riya Sen has the best skin right now in Bollywood. It appears
to be really soft and tender. So, to have a soft and fair skin like her
I recommend Fair & Lovely Fairness Lotion or Cream.” Yet “skin
color isn’t a proof of greatness. Those with wheatish or dark skin
are by no way inferior to those who have fair skin.”
Here are a few facts from Hindustan Lever Ltd.’s homepage:
Lever Limited is India’s largest Packaged Mass Consumption Goods Company. We are leaders in Home and Personal Care Products and Food and Beverages including
such products as Ponds and Pepsodent. We seek to meet
everyday needs of people everywhere—to anticipate the
aspirations of our consumers and customers and to respond
creatively and competitively with branded products and services which raise the quality of life. It is this purpose which
inspires us to build brands. Over the past 70 years, we have
introduced about 110 brands.
Fair & Lovely has been specially designed and proven to
deliver one to three shades of change in most people. Also
its sunscreen system is specially optimized for Indian skin.
Indian skin, unlike Caucasian skin, tends to “tan” rather
than “burn” and, hence, requires a different combination of
UVA and UVB sunscreens.
Sources: Nicole Leistikow, “Indian Women Criticize ‘Fair and Lovely’ Ideal,” Women’s
eNews, April 28, 2003; Arundhati Parmar, “Objections to Indian Ad Not Taken Lightly,”
Marketing News, June 9, 2003, p. 4; “Fair & Lovely Launches Foundation to Promote
Economic Empowerment of Women,” press release, Fair & Lovely Foundation, http:// (search for foundation), March 11, 2003; Rina Chandran, “All for SelfControl,” Business Line (The Hindu), April 24, 2003; Khozem Merchant and Edward
Luce, “Not So Fair and Lovely,” Financial Times, March 19, 2003; “Fair & Lovely
Redefines Fairness with Multivitamin Total Fairness Cream,” press release, Hindustan
Lever Ltd., May 3, 2005; Dr. Deepa Kanchankoti, “Do You Think Fairness Creams
Work?”, July 13, 2005; ”CavinKare Launches Small
Sachet Packs,” Business India, December 7, 2006; “Analysis of Skin Care Advertising on TV During January–August 2006,” Media, Advertising,
Marketing Watch, October 17, 2006; “Women Power Gets Full Play in CavinKare’s
Brand Strategy.” The Economic Times (New Delhi, India), December 8, 2006; Heather
Timmons, “Telling India’s Modern Women They Have Power, Even Over Their Skin
Tone,” The New York Times, May 30, 2007; “The Year We Almost Lost Tall (or Short
or Medium-Height), Dark and Handsome,” The Hindustan Times, December 29, 2007;
“India’s Hue and Cry Over Paler Skin,” The Sunday Telegraph (London), July 1, 2007;
“Fair and Lovely?” University Wire, June 4, 2007; “The Race to Keep up with Modern India,” Media, June 29, 2007; Aneel Karnani, “Doing Well by Doing Good—Case
Study: ‘Fair & Lovely’ Whitening Cream,” Strategic Management Journal 28, no. 13
(2007), pp. 1351–57.
You may want to visit HLL’s homepage ( for additional information about the company.
1. Identify the CRS issues and dilemmas.
1. Identify the ethical issues and dilemmas.
2. Consider and identify the CSR- focused stakeholders.
2. Consider and identify the stakeholders.
3. Identify and apply appropriate CSR decision-making/
analyses, identify consequences, and explain how these
informed decision-making.
4. Choose a course of action.
5. Identify CSR actions the company can take.
3. Identify and apply appropriate models/frameworks of
ethical analyses1 and identify consequences of each2.
1 This
area reaches ethical sensitivity as well as Kohlberg’s
stages of moral development as they relate to recognizing
ethical issues/dilemmas.
2 Embedded in this area is the opportunity to address and
discuss the cognitive aspects of ethical decision-making, the
developing disciplines of Cognitive Psychology, Social
Psychology, and other Psychology disciplines, and the
contributions that they have made to understanding ethical
decision-making and the psychological impediments to ethical
4. Choose a course of action.
cat2994X_case2_019-046.indd 27
8/27/10 2:05 PM

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