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Country Notebook

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This case tells how two companies in India, HLL’s Fair & Lovely and Cavin Kare’s Fairever , ran advertising campaigns that were not very ethical. In India fair skin is thought of as more beautiful and desirable than darker skin. Fair & Lovely was the leading company with 90% share and the Cavin Kare’s Fairever was released and they gained 15% share. This made Fair & Lovely launch a series of ads depicting a “fairer girl gets the boy theme.” Cavin Kare also came back with ads focusing on the same thing. They also showed in their commercials that their products worked. Their campaigns lasted for a few years and were eventually pulled due to harsh criticism for its portrayal of women.
1. Is it ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effective?
From my point of view it is not ethical to sell a product that is, at best, only mildly effective. The product which is mentioned in the case is a cosmetic that lightens skin color. It is promoted as “the miracle worker” which can deliver your skin a difference from one to three shades. According to the new Fair & Lovely technology ad, the cream is supposed to change your skin even in four weeks. However, Indian dermatologists explain “that fairness products cannot truly work as they reach only the upper layers of the skin and so do not affect melanin production”. Moreover experts state, the main reason why people believe that the cream is work-ing, is a bleaching ingredient which just whitens facial hair and not the skin. The result of the product differs quite from what it has been promoted. Therefore, the HLL’s marketing strategy contains some kind of fraud. Referring to our textbook, the company cannot answer the question with “yes”, that the product optimizes the “common good” or benefits of all constituencies. So for me it is not ethical to sell a product which is mildly effective while customers have no...

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