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ASC-disapproved GlutaMAX ad receives backlash, netizens demand boycott

  • Whitening brand GlutaMAX is in hot waters for promoting discrimination with its latest campaign of ‘fair advantage’ between mestiza and morena women
  • Social media users and celebrities decry that the public should need to whiten their skin in order to be treated better, some even proposed to boycott the product
  • GlutaMAX has since issued an apology but Ad Standards Council claimed that they have  disapproved of the ad several times, before it was released

In using the tagline “Unfair, di ba?” to portray morena women at a disadvantage over fair-skinned Filipinas in mundane scenarios, such as being given a seat on the bus, a controversial advertisement immediately received backlash on social media.

The ad also quoted a study which said that three out of five Filipinos believe people with whiter skin are generally treated better. It added: “Don’t be mad. Use GlutaMAX! Your fair advantage.”

Netizen Ed Lorenzo, shared an update on Facebook, from the Ad Standards Council (ASC), which is the screening body of the ad industry in the country, founded by the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies of the Philippines, Philippine Association of National Advertisers), and the Kapisanan ng Brodkasters ng Pilipinas. This is in regard to the viral GlutaMAX ad concern, which he proposed that other social media users should boycott.

Lorenzo posted a screenshot of Adie Pena on Ad Standards Council’s response, on whether they have checked first GlutaMAX’s campaign before they were put out in public.

“Per ASC’s Executive Director Digna Dator Santos: ‘(T)he ASC has disapproved the Glutamax ad several times. Unfortunately, the client and agency decided to still post/display the ad despite the disapproval which is a gross violation of ASC rules. The matter will be referred to the ASC Technical Committee for appropriate action,’” replied Pena.

The controversy went over to Twitter where one user retorted, “So disappointing that instead of promoting “equality” regardless of skin color, they opted to point out na deserve nga talaga ng mapuputi ang better treatment. What a trashy logic we got here from GlutaMAX. RESPECT TO A PERSON IS NEVER OF COLOR OR RACE!!!!”

“I’m so angry about this ad that I can’t even breathe properly. Wtf.  I’m imagining young Filipinas who see this ad and feel shame from their BEAUTIFUL, NATURAL, BROWN COLOR. You should be ashamed of yourself, GlutaMAX. You, the ad agency, and everyone involved in this shitty ad,” another netizen commented.

“SKINWHITE IS CANCELLED, GLUTAMAX IS CANCELLED. These whitening brands don’t need new campaigns. They need new values first,” remarked another, referring to Skinwhite’s ad of showing men and women with contrasting skin tones, allegedly turning out to the models being black/brownfaced for the shoot.

“Apparently, Glutamax thinks that the solution to (discrimination) based on skin color is to whiten yourself??? WTH!!!? This forwards the disgusting narrative that the only standard for respecting people is if they’re fair-skinned. Shame on your capitalistic attempt to be relevant,” pointed out by another Twitter user.

Television host Bianca Gonzalez, known for her tanned complexion and being proud of it, also took to Twitter to express her sentiment on the issue: “There is no problem AT ALL if you want to whiten your skin. The problem is when whitening brands make it appear that you should feel pity for us just because we are dark. We are not people you should feel pity for, because our skin color is beautiful.”

“I grew up loving my brown skin because of beautiful women like Angel Aquino and Tweetie de Leon who proudly flaunted their brown skin. I looked up to them. I did not need to compare myself to fair skinned girls. It need not be a ‘battle’ of maitim versus maputi,” Gonzalez added.

Actress Chai Fonacier, another brown-skinned celebrity, called the brand an “uneducated potato.”

The viral ad which angered netizens and celebrities alike, and reached more than two thousand shares online, has since then been deleted.

GlutaMAX has recently released an apology statement to the public who found “discomfort” from their online campaign “#YourFairAdvantage.”

“As we’ve learned, talking about skin is never skin-deep,” (meaning not deep or lasting, can also be construed as “superficial”) “issue. It’s a minefield of sensitivities, of deeply held beliefs, and should never be taken lightly,” said the brand on a Facebook post.

“And yet, over the weekend, we’ve caused a disproportionate amount of discomfort and even pain. That said, we believe that the best intentions are never an excuse for causing harm, and for all those that we’ve offended over the past few days, we offer our sincerest apologies,” it added.

Written by Moneeze Bernardo

Hello! My name is Moneeze Bernardo, typically silent and a good listener. I'm good at being me and at the end of the day nobody is perfect and that's what makes life interesting. Oh! and I so love sunsets.

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