The liberty-curtailing danger in 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign

The 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign, I am afraid may have got the intent right, but the act wrong. Messing up on the latter means the campaign will first be ineffective, and second, dangerous. Ineffective because the campaign understands nothing about the way the human brain responds to stimuli. Dangerous because it barks up the wrong tree, and takes on the liberty-denying mantle of 'regulation' to ensure 'social fairness'.

Note, unconditioned responses come naturally to homo sapiens. Meaning, pre-learned responses that may on the surface seem discriminatory, but aren't, will invariably show up when sensory organs act on stimuli. Take babies for example. Symmetry in faces is what babies prefer. In fact babies respond more positively to attractive, symmetrical faces. Stretch that and you will see that an unconditioned response to certain skin tone may not be discriminatory at all, but just a natural reaction. From a geographical perspective such responses will follow the demand-supply rule. In a country where 90% have darker skin tones, the remaining 10% will garner the lion's share of eyeballs. Those greater eyeballs will, post multiple exposures (read, learning) translate into a preference (read attitude formation) for the minority.

The D is B campaign can do whatever it wants, bet it can't and won't reverse the current preference trend. Not until genetics realigns skin tones in generations to follow.

On an important added note, the D is B campaign is a dangerous one. Using the regulatory route it attempts to stifle what is a fundamental right. All in the name of arresting a discriminatory practice. The right to communicate by playing into a prejudice, however distasteful, should be one given to marketers. Sure, many may not like it, but what about those who want to hear the message and then make up their mind on their own? Why should they be denied the message because a handful believe such messages propagate a prejudice? Denials by default ascribe superior positions to regulators. Consumers are mindless idiots is what is assumed, and so regulators must intervene.

Plus even if the 'whitening' message propagates a prejudice, a root-cause analysis will show the problem as one steeped in social mores, and not marketer practices. It isn't the big bad marketer who's to blame, its culture and society.

The problem with the D is B campaign is that it steps outside of the space of a social campaign. It transgresses into the territory of liberty-curtailment.

That is as dangerous as any campaign can get. So, beware!


Popular Posts