We’ve all seen the splashing face with water in the sink ads and wondered how their bathroom doesn’t get dirty. Indian advertisements based on facewash, face moisturisers, skin moisturisers and basically every skin related product have always been the cliche kind. A woman wants to go party and uses the quick lights-up-your-skin bb cream or a man is working hard in the gym due to which the sweat destroys his ‘manly’ skin. That’s all there is to these advertisements.

POND’S Dull Face

I don’t expect a lot from splash your face in the sink advertisements except that they give me something fresh to look at that is not the model’s freshly washed face. I’ll stop with that joke. I came across this face wash ad from POND’S that I really really liked because it was faaaar from your usual ad scripts.

Not an Alpha Male Concept

First, it is targeted at men and it is not based on an alpha male concept. Toxic masculinity is one subject that is often overlooked especially in ads based on self-care. Men are generally shown under two categories:

  1. Men working out in the gym, flexing their muscles and abs which results in sweaty skin
  2. Men in offices trying to impress their female co-workers but get rejected due to their oily skin

If it’s not obvious, men need skin-care regardless of whether they go to the gym or they want to impress another woman. Everyone should wash their face regularly and take care of their skin, I don’t like the fact that these ads are centred around the concept of ‘masculinity’. I wouldn’t only blame the brand and their marketing strategies though. These advertisements are often created based on what they see in the general society and on planet Earth skincare and self-care products are often viewed to be ‘feminine’. I wish I could understand the ‘why’ behind it but I honestly don’t.

Focuses on the Skin Glow

Second, it does not specifically focus on the skin colour or the skin glow. Confidence is the one quality that can take you places. Be it a job interview or a career deciding exam, at least half the outcome depends upon how confident you are. If we consider confidence an important quality in educational or career aspects, why is it not highlighted in skincare ads?

This ad focuses on how the PONDS facial cleanser makes not your face but your personality go from dull to bright. It highlights how it can give you the confidence you NEED and take your happiness meter from 0 to 100. I also feel that this ad breaks the regular in another way. Usually, we see that models in face product advertisements look at their faces in the mirror and react negatively when that should not be a thing at all. This ad shows the guy dull and sad for most of the day around strangers but when he reaches the mirror and sees himself (of course, while using the product), he is shown to be all happy and energetic, and that is the vibe I think we all should be looking for.

Looking in the mirror should NEVER make you feel unhappy about yourself, some advertisements display how unhappy or insecure a person is with themselves before using the product. The product irrespective of what it is should not ONLY make one feel better physically, and most brands fail to recognise that.

Targeting Insecurities

Tackling self-doubts and body shaming issues has not been a strong suit for a few brands. Recently, a very infamous Indian brand came into the limelight for promoting fairer skin over darker skin. It was surprising that this came up in 2021 because they had been doing it for a very long time, ever since I started watching TV I suppose. Following the backlash, the brand changed its name from ‘Fair and Lovey’ to ‘Glow and Lovely’, it would have been even more lovely if they would have changed the format of their advertisements.

Most women focussed advertisements talk about absolutely useless scenarios. No, women don’t only want to look pretty for men. No, women do not hate their skin, their scars, their spots. No, women don’t want to get a ‘brighter’ AKA ‘whiter’ looking skin. I feel that brands are the sole reason why women and men have body issues in the first place. The marketing tactic of being Sad-to-Happy after using the product, is not always a good strategy especially if you’re talking about skin, face or body. Brands should be tageting the use of their product and not the insecurities of women.

A New Look - Glow and Lovely

However, not all advertisements look down on women. After the controversy with Glow and Lovely, they recently released an advertisement in support of the women participating in the Olympics.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not your face that glows, it’s your personality. This advertisement portrays that perfectly. Women in Indian media are rarely ever shown to be anything other than the stereotypical ‘feminine’ women. It is refreshing for once to see an advertisement that displays women’s abilities to be strong and powerful, to ‘Glow’ without needing a reason or a man. Even though the brand is frowned upon because of its previously used marketing tactics (which they still use in some advertisements), I’d say that its finally picking up the pace and the rebrand was the right move.

#SeeWhatHappens - POND’S

Another beautiful advertisement that encourages women to break their shells and #seewhathappens was created by none other than POND’S.

Quite similar to the previous ad in terms of the topic that’s being talked about but the message is completely different. When women or girls pursue activities that are viewed as ‘primarily’ for men, they are often looked down upon or are considered less feminine. Since most of the beauty products advertisements only target the feminine side of women, this particular advertisement breaks the cycle. I also like how the product is being used to hide the scars on her face in the beginning but when she finally breaks her shell, she stops hiding the marks; this proves that the intention behind the advertisement was not the product but the message.

I believe that the advertising industry is finally stepping in the right direction and portraying the different roles and qualities of women. Empowerment of women is the need of the hour and there’s no better medium than advertisements.