Citra skin whitening advert draws criticism

Citra skin whitening advert draws criticism

A Citra skin whitening TV advert aimed at female university students has drawn criticism and the parent firm, Unilever Thailand, has apologised for any “misunderstandings”.

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An advert for the "Citra Search for clear, soft and glowing skin" campaign posted on the company Facebook page.

Citra skin whitening advert draws criticism

Citra Thailand, a Thai company owned by consumer goods giant Unilever, makes good money off the desire of Thai women to have whiter skin.

White skin is seen as being attractive and proof that you are wealthy enough not to have to work in the sun as a labourer.

Citra advertises heavily on television, usually glorifying white skin and showing how easy it is to obtain with its skin whitening products.

One advertisement has put the company on the defensive, however.

The advert is set on a university campus where two presenters ask female students what would make them "outstanding in uniform".

The first girl to be asked, who has a darker complexion, appears confused by the question and says she does not know. But a much whiter-skinned girl judged by presenters to have "beautiful" skin answers with the Citra product slogan.

The advert is part of a campaign entitled The "Citra Search for clear, soft and glowing skin", which runs throughout October. It asks female students to send pictures of themselves in their uniforms holding a Citra product.

The competition has a prize fund of around 100,000 baht.

Posts in social media have criticised the company for apparently linking education with whiter skin.

"Now, you can get a scholarship because of white skin, not because of good studying, not if you are poor and dark," said one post on the well-known Thai online comment website

Another complained that the advert had "clearly compared" the darker and lighter-skinned students, with the first girl appearing "glum", while whiter students laughed and had "big shining smiles".

Citra, which is part of Unilever Thailand, said the advert was in no way promoting racial discrimination, but apologised for any “misunderstandings”.

"We apologise for any misunderstandings regarding the campaign. The Citra brand will exercise greater sensitivity for brand activation campaigns that take place in the future."

"Our company has good consumer responsibility standards ... We welcome all opinions and comments, but we are sincere and do not have any intention to have skin discrimination," said a Unilever Thailand spokeswoman on behalf of Citra.

Adapted from an AFP story. If you can read Thai you can read the discussion here:

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  • activation (noun): to make something such as a device, new business or chemical process start working - การกระตุ้น
  • advertisement (noun): advert; a short piece of video or words with pictures that makes people interesting in buying some product - การโฆษณา
  • apologise: to say you are sorry for doing something wrong or for causing a problem - ขอโทษ
  • apparently: based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly - ตามที่ได้รู้มา
  • attractive: pleasant to look at - มีเสน่ห์ดึงดูด
  • brand: a type of product made by a particular company - ตรา, ยี่ห้อ
  • campaign: a planned series of activities - การรณรงค์
  • campus (noun): the buildings of a university, college or business and the land around them - พื้นที่ที่เป็นที่ตั้งของมหาวิทยาลัย
  • competition: a situation in which people or organizations compete, i.e., try to be more successful or better than somebody else who is trying to do the same as you - การแข่งขัน
  • complain: to say that you are annoyed, unhappy or not satisfied about somebody/something - บ่น, ร้องทุกข์
  • complexion: the natural colour and condition of the skin on a person's face - ลักษณะผิว
  • confused: unable to understand something or think clearly about it - สับสน
  • consumer: someone who buys and uses goods and services - ผู้บริโภค
  • criticism: comments that show that you think something is wrong or bad - การวิจารณ์
  • desire: a strong wish to have or do something - ความอยาก, ความประสงค์, ความต้องการ
  • discrimination: the practice of treating someone or a particular group in society less fairly than others - การเลือกปฏิบัติ, การแบ่งแยก
  • exercise: to use - ใช้
  • female: being a woman or a girl - สตรี, ผู้หญิง, เพศหญิ
  • fund: money provided for something - เงินทุน กองทุน
  • glorify: to make something seem better or more important than it really is - ยกย่อง, สรรเสริญ
  • glow: to produce a continuous light and sometimes heat - แสงแวววาว
  • glum: looking sad, as if you expect something bad to happen - เศร้าสร้อย, หดหู่
  • intention: a plan in your mind to do something - ความตั้งใจ เจตนา แผนการ
  • judge: to form an opinion about somebody/something, based on the information you have - คาดคะเน
  • labourer: a person whose job involves hard physical work that is not skilled, especially work that is done outdoors - กรรมกร, ผู้ใช้แรงงาน
  • link: to connect - เชื่อม
  • misunderstanding: a situation in which a comment, an instruction, etc. is not understood correctly - ความเข้าใจผิด
  • obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
  • on behalf of: as a representative of - ในนามของ ในฐานะของ
  • on the defensive: having to deal with something that is powerful and difficult to deal with; trying to defend or protect something from attacks or criticism -
  • opinion: your feelings or thoughts about somebody/something, rather than a fact - ความเห็น, ความคิดเห็น, ทัศนคติ
  • outstanding: clearly very much better than what is usual - ยอดเยี่ยม, ดีเด่น
  • presenter: a person who introduces the different sections of a radio or television programme or promotes a product - ผู้นำเสนอ
  • proof: information, documents, etc. that show that something is true - การพิสูจน์
  • racial: connected with a person's race - เกี่ยวกับเชื้อชาติ
  • responsibility: a moral duty to behave in a particular way - ความรับผิดชอบ
  • scholarships: money given to a student to pay for the cost of education - ทุนการศึกษา
  • sensitivity: needed to be dealt with very carefully to not cause anger or offence - ความละเอียดอ่อน
  • sincere (adj): (of a person, feelings or behaviour) not pretending or lying; honest - จริงใจ, ตรงไปตรงมา
  • slogan: a short easily remembered phrase, especially one used to advertise an idea or a product - สโลแกน
  • standard: a (high) level of quality - มาตรฐาน
  • uniform: the special set of clothes worn by all members of an organisation or a group at work, or by children at school - เครื่องแบบ
  • wealthy: having a large amount of money, land, and other valuable things   - ที่มั่งคั่ง ร่ำรวย

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