FMCG major Hindustan Unilever on Thursday said it will remove the word 'Fair' from its popular skin care brand 'Fair & Lovely', as part of a rebranding exercise in the wake of growing voices against racial stereotypes.
The company said its other skincare portfolio will also adopt a new holistic vision towards beauty that cares for everyone and celebrates all skin colours.
"Taking forward the brand's journey towards a more inclusive vision of beauty, the company will stop using the word 'Fair' in the brand name ‘Fair & Lovely'. The new name is awaiting regulatory approvals and we expect to change the name in the next few months,” Hindustan Unilever Ltd (HUL) said in a statement.
As part of the rebranding, the company will also be announcing the new name for the 'Fair & Lovely' Foundation, set up in 2003 to offer scholarships to women to help them pursue their education.
HUL Chairman and Managing Director Sanjiv Mehta said that “in addition to the changes to Fair & Lovely, the rest of HUL's skincare portfolio will also reflect the new vision of positive beauty”.
“In 2019, we removed the cameo with two faces as well as the shade guides from the packaging of Fair & Lovely and the brand communication progressed from fairness to glow which is a more holistic and inclusive measure of healthy skin,” he added.
These changes were very well received by consumers, Mehta claimed.
The new name is awaiting regulatory approvals and the pack with the revised name will be available in the market in the next few months, he said.
Activists were campaigning on Change.Org, a platform where supporters mobilise to seek change in communities, through petitions asking the company to drop the brand or its name.
Chandana Hiran, who started the Change.org petition and calls herself a feminist and change-maker in her Twitter profile, said she thanks Unilever on behalf of more than 10,000 people who had signed her petition.
"I have goosebumps as I read this! Kudos to you @Unilever I'm so so so happy rn. And I thank you on behalf of over 10k people who signed my petition for this to happen,” she tweeted.
The company said it will continue to evolve its advertising, to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India.
“The brand's vision is to adopt a holistic approach to beauty that cares for people, that must be inclusive and diverse -- for everyone, everywhere. The brand is committed to celebrating all skin tones,” it said.
Nida Hasan, country director, Change.org India, said, "It is hard to ignore the role of Fair and Lovely advertisements in shaping colourism in India. The decision by HUL is a much needed acknowledgment of India's diversity. Just recently, Johnson & Johnson announced a similar move based on a citizen driven petition."
Over the years, many women have dared to call out colourism and racism inherent in these ‘fairness' products through petitions on Change.org, Hasan said, adding that she is "glad that Change.Org was a part of this citizen-driven story that challenged the status quo and resulted in a celebration of diversity".
HUL's parent Unilever announced the next step in the evolution of its skincare portfolio to "a more inclusive vision of beauty -- which includes the removal of the words ‘fair/fairness', ‘white/whitening', and ‘light/lightening' from its products' packs and communication.
“As part of this decision, the Fair & Lovely brand name will be changed in the next few months."
Commenting on the move, Unilever President (Beauty & Personal Care) Sunny Jain said, “We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skincare brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity of beauty."
He further said, "We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair', ‘white' and ‘light' suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don't think is right, and we want to address this. As we're evolving the way that we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even tone skin, it's also important to change the language we use.”
Several FMCG companies are concerned about their brands after 'Black Lives Matter' protests across the globe. Recently, the US healthcare and FMCG giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has stopped the sale of its skin-whitening creams globally, including India.
Skin-whitening creams is considered to be a big market in India in the personal care segment and several FMCG players, including Procter & Gamble, Garnier (L'Oreal), Emami and Himalaya operate in the segment with their respective products.