JACQUELINE DILANCHYAN WRITES – Overall the world of advertising has come a long way in the last 50 years in regard to diversity. But not in Asia, where, for some reason, advertising campaigns haven’t quite progressed enough to claim the “fair representation” that other parts of the world can arguably claim.

Take a look at some of the most watched YouTube advertisements in the United States from 2017:



The interesting thing about these ads is that each one of them featued a diverse group of actors, ranging from African Americans, to Caucasians, and Asians in their videos. Compare that to the top YouTube advertisement in the Asia-Pacific region in 2017, and there’s an obvious gap in diversity.

Even when compared to Hong Kong, a once British colony that’s fairly westernized, there’s still that gap.

One counter-argument is that that the brands being advertised are for Asian companies, which is only partly the the case. Asian countries are infamous for using Asian models to promote foreign based brands when advertising them in their own country. Take a look at this Pond’s–a Finnish company–Skincare ad.

So what’s happening? Why aren’t Asians countries embracing this concept of diversity when it comes to advertising like the rest of the world has already been doing for years now. Is paleness still a sign of prestige? Is skinny still “in”? Who’s to blame? Perhaps Asian norms are not changing because Asian media sources are telling their society what “beautiful” and “handsome” should look like.

It’s 2018 and Asian countries are still drilling the idea of the whiter you are, the prettier you are. If you take a look at the skincare products that are being sold across Asia, majority of them have a skin-whitening component to them. The image above is taken from a Thai beauty advertisement, “Just being white, you will win,” says Cris Horwang, a smiling pale-skinned actress in the 50 second spot of the video advertisement.

And it goes much further than just the advertisement itself. Back in 2013, in an ad for a skin-whitening cream by Unilever, they claimed that the company would offer university scholarships to students with fairer skin.

I think it’s time #diversity starts trending in Asia.

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