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5 Racist Indian Ads That Should Have Never Seen The Light of Day

The talk around Fair and Lovely changing its name and the controversies around its brand message may have slowly ebbed away, but it surely hasn’t been forgotten yet. After all, you can’t undo the decades of shame and insecurity that you’ve inflicted upon millions of men and women not just in India but across the world.


Everyone remembers the 2016 racist Chinese laundry detergent commercial. Sadly, this happens in India almost every month and Fair and Lovely isn’t the only brand that can be blamed for coming up with such racist commercials. Over the years, we’ve seen so many racist and sexist Indian commercials that we are left scratching our heads wondering how on earth these ads got approved in the first place.



In case, you need to jog your memory to recall these, we have rounded up some of the absolute worst of the lot for you. So, here are 5 racist and sexist ads to ever air on TV.


1. Pond’s

This 5-part commercial shows Saif Ali Khan parting ways with a visibly dark Priyanka Chopra only to be smitten by her ‘fair’ complexion three years later when he crosses paths with her again.



No, don’t get me wrong; I am all for finding lost love. But this is not just demeaning for Saif but also raises questions about Priyanka’s character who goes back to her now successful ex-boyfriend. And the credit for all of this goes to none other than Pond’s fairness cream. Wow, Pond’s, that’s some matchmaking on your part!


2. LMN

Talk about showing blacks as primitive and LMN would be spot on, demonstrating its truly racist credentials.



The Indian lemon drink LMN has a blatantly racist subtext in its commercial that shows two Africans digging in the sand for water. When they finally find a tap nearby, they pull it out of the ground and begin using it as a shovel. Why? Because they are Africans and are all about brawn, not brains. Isn’t that correct, dear LMN fellas?


3. 9X Fairness Cream

Now, I really don’t understand if I should be rolling on the floor watching the absurdity of this commercial or banging my head against a wall at its unfiltered stupidity.



The commercial shows a dark-complexioned Indian woman applying 9X fairness cream on her face and turning fair. Viola! The commercial put to shame even the miracles of some of the world’s most renowned saints. What next 9X? Do you also plan to apply this cream on all black buffaloes and alter their complexion? Because you surely seem capable of doing that!


4. Kalyan Jewellers

What does it take to get a former Miss World embroiled in controversy? Well, present her as the vanguard of the ancient slavery system and add a touch of racism to it. And bingo!



Aishwarya Rai Bacchan and Kalyan Jewellers courted major controversy when an ad featuring the actress with a dark-skinned boy holding a parasol over her went viral. The advertisement was slammed by activists for being racist and promoting child slavery. While you can excuse them for the ad’s inadvertent racist connotations under the garb of recklessness, nothing justifies the picture of a young boy in the ad, especially when India has been grappling with the issues of child labor for ages.


5. Fair and Lovely

And we finally come to our favorite brand that’s been propagating subtle racism in the country for years.



The commercial shows a young girl landing the job of an air hostess because of her fair complexion, which she got through a fairness cream. The commercial doesn’t merely sadden us but also boils our blood. Because deep down we know that fair skin does play a role in furthering your career and gives you a slight edge over your dark-skinned competitors. And it’s this harsh reality that infuriates us because the ads ultimately show what’s already prevalent in society.


Wrapping Up

Regardless of whether or not Indians accept it, racism is a reality in India. And merely boycotting brands that propagate racism wouldn’t solve the country’s problems. Ultimately, it is up to the people to figure out the kind of society that they wish to be a part of and they have the entire western world to learn from as far as the adverse impact of racism is concerned.


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