The following was captured from an image of one of three ads uploaded to the Belo Men Facebook Page at 6:15pm 01 July 2012 (AEST). The ad images had apparently since been removed from that page.
The ad features a fair-skinned Filipino(?) man standing in front of what looks like a white Korean-made economy sedan tossing what looks like the car keys to a scrambling valet while uttering the words “Dude, make alaga my car ha!”
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“10% ligher. 100% more sosyal,” asserts the ad copy and, thus, “a little whitening makes a big difference”.
People may scream bloody political incorrectness, but the truth about what Filipinos really value among their lot never fails to emerge. Just several weeks ago in early June, an ad campaign by clothing line brand BAYO drew flak and ridicule for its allegedly “racist” undertones after featuring mixed-race models in its ad posters and made the following assertion in the ads’ copy…
This is just all about MIXING and MATCHING. Nationalities, moods, personalities and of course your fashion pieces. Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class. We always have that fighting chance to make it in the world arena of almost all aspects. Be it Fashion, Music, Science and Sports. Having Filipino lineage is definitely something to be proud of.
The Belo Medical Group is also associated with an earlier gaffe involving Jinkee Pacquiao, wife of Filipino boxing champ Manny Pacquiao. Mrs Pacquiao was featured on the cover fashion magazine MEGA in what was described as an “over-photoshopped” photo of her. The champ’s wife is reportedly one of Belo’s showcase clients and a frequent endorser of the “doctor’s” products.
Skin whitening is big business in the Philippines. In a 2009 report, Philippine personal care products giant Splash Corporation reported that skin whitening products accounted for the biggest portion of its revenue growth in that year, raking in Php1.3 billion. To be fair (pardon the pun), a premium placed on fair skin is a human cultural meme that has endured across societies and across time. Among African-Americans, for example, there is some evidence that skin tone either determines or strongly correlates with social status and wealth. In her 2007 paper “The Skin Color Paradox and the American Racial Order” Harvard professor Jennifer Hochschild opened her exploration of the thesis with an anecdote coming out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster that hit New Orleans…
In September 2005, a CNN news anchor remarked that the most devastated victims of Hurricane Katrina “are so poor and they are so Black” (Blitzer 2005). He presumably was referring to the fact that most displaced people were African American residents of New Orleans. But behind his comment was a physical fact about the people appearing on television sets across the country; those left behind were the darkest as well as the poorest of their race. Commentators have spoken endlessly of their poverty–but beyond this comment, not at all of their complexion.
Blitzer’s remarks were prescient; as the first epigraph suggests, racial minorities with dark skin in the United States have been disproportionately disadvantaged for centuries.1 Relative to their lighter-skinned counterparts, dark-skinned Blacks have lower levels of education, income, and job status; they are less likely to own homes or to marry; and dark-skinned blacks’ prison sentences are longer. Dark-skin discrimination occurs within as well as across races (Turner 1995). Some evidence suggests, in fact, that intra-racial disparities are as detrimental to a person’s life chances as are disparities traditionally associated with racial divisions (Hughes and Hertel 1990).
Perhaps the marketers and ad agents of the Belo Group, to use Prof. Hochschild’s had themselves been pretty prescient in the design of their ad campaign. To be fair, advertising merely reflects a society’s tastes. And no amount of political correctness will mask that reality.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.