The Belo Medical Group has apologized for an advertising campaign that drew criticisms for supposed racist connotation.
The ad, which promotes a skin whitening line of products for men, received adverse comments from netizens for allegedly glorifying whiter skin as something synonymous to being rich, successful and attractive.
One part of the ad carried the tagline: "10% lighter. 100% more sosyal."
But company general manager Cristalle Henares said the ad didn't imply that dark-skinned people belong to the lower class.
"If a lot of people are getting offended about it, we apologize about that. But it wasn't our intention," Henares said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
"That was just the execution. The idea behind it is as they get whiter, they became more confident," she added.
Henares said they were simply trying to be a bit "humorous" with the campaign, pointing out that men tend to shy away from products that could typify them as being seriously vain.
"These are just ways to make the subject a little lighter because men are medyo nahihiya sila about the topic. But from what we know in the clinic, that's really what they want to happen. ...para hindi siya derecho, we had to make it a little more humorous," she explained.
Henares said the Belo Medical Group has decided to forgo the campaign in the meantime.
"It's a sensitive topic right now, we're going to park it a bit and see where it goes," she said.
Henares' mother, Vicki Belo, also the medical director of the company, admitted in the same interview having suggested the creation of the line to her daughter given the growing market for such a product.
"Men have always been looking for something [specifically made] for them," Belo said. "They don't want to be really white but they just want to be fairer kasi sabi nila parang mas clear ang complexion, parang they feel more confident. So I told Cristalle before pa na I think you need to make a whitening product for men, for them lang talaga."
"I gave in to what they [the public] want. That's (skin whitening) the No. 1 talaga na hinihingi sa clinic, both men and women," she added.
Controversy over Belo's skin whitening ad campaign came on the heels of RTW brand Bayo's much-maligned "What's your mix" campaign, which has since been discontinued after it too was heavily criticized for allegedly being racist.
The "What's Your Mix?" campaign seemingly suggested that a Filipino with foreign blood makes for a "sure formula" for world class beauty.
"Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalists with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class," the copy of the Bayo ad read in part.
Meanwhile, an ad for an optical shop has also received flak for supposed racist undertone.
The Executive Optical (EO) billboard on EDSA, which shows a girl being embraced by a dark-skinned guy, carries the tagline: "Don't be a loser, have your eyes checked."
But according to EO’s marketing consultants, the ad is not racist.
“There is no intent of presenting racism at all,” said Karen de Asis, Chief Brand Strategist of MKS Marketing Consulting, the company that conceptualized EO’s ads, in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
“It’s a presentation of a real-life situation. The two suitors have contrasting personalities. Both are Filipinos. It’s not about color. The ad is simply about poor eyesight,” she explained.
"The ad simply showed that the suitor with flowers won over the girl versus the suitor who inadvertently gave a cauliflower," she added.
De Asis said that the ads conforms to the Ad Standard Council's (ASC) Code of Ethics, which specify that "advertisements shall not directly or indirectly disparage, ridicule, criticize or attack any natural or juridical person, groups of persons or any sector of society, especially on the basis of gender, social or economic class, religion, ethnicity, race or nationality."
By NR RAMOS