Female beauty product company discovers misogyny as an advertising tool
"In the natal period of the Bangladeshi advertisement industry, the ads were very basic and to the point. A 90s hair oil advertisement would simply say something like, "If you have hair fall problems, try our latest hair oil". But these straightforward advertisements have become boring and aren't effective anymore," said Rupban Sundari, marketing head at UniBeaver Limited.
"We realised that for our beauty products to work, it's not sufficient to claim that you'd be beautiful if you use our fairness cream. So, we modify things a tad bit and claim that you'd be a hideous and grotesque social outcast and a burden on your family if you don't use our fairness cream," Sundari said.
Sundari believes that she and her team of unpaid interns with a BBA degree have cracked the code of beauty product advertising.
"I usually take ideas from the people around me and keep my advertisements very rooted and realistic," she explained. "Selling beauty products is similar to Bangladeshi parents dealing with their daughter's marriage – capitalising on their fear and insecurity while manipulating them into doing something they don't actually want to. Characters in my advertisements are similar to the people around us we see every day. Basically, racist and misogynist bigots."
"Take, for example, a male university student in my ad," Sundari went on to analyse the characters in her advertisements. "He has nothing better to do in his life but to stand in the hallway and shame every other girl he can about their hair, skin tone, and lack of moisture on their lips. He's given up on his attendance and his grades and is ready to jeopardise his entire career for the sake of shaming his female classmates for a living. If getting shamed for skin tone and hair doesn't remind a Bangladeshi girl about their insecurity, I don't know what does!"
Shadman Sakib, an unpaid intern at UniBeaver, talked about his experience at the company.
"On our first day of work, a colleague of mine pitched a really creative and unique advertisement idea for our fairness cream. Sundari ma'am, being the genius she is, immediately fired that person. She told us that if she wanted creative ideas, she would just hire actual writers rather than marketing undergrads. It was made very clear that we had been hired to make the most blatantly offensive advertisement and scam the living hell out of our consumers, exactly what we'd been taught in our four years of undergraduate life."
However, UniBeaver faced major controversy after their recent advertisement was so racist that right-wing white supremacist groups started promoting it on their websites. To compensate for the backlash, the company started a women empowerment program which intends to facilitate female education and employment for women at the grassroots level.
"Every once or twice, things go wrong and we face consequences for being racist and sexist," said Sundari. "In that case, we just launch a meaningless program facilitating issues we pretend to care about like feminism, climate change or education. We might also finance a few business competitions once in a while and before you know it, your favourite evil multinational conglomerate is back on track for another year of capitalising on appearance issues."
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