Belo apologizes for skin whitening ads

Posted at 07/02/2012 11:39 AM | Updated as of 07/02/2012 4:19 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The Belo Medical Group apologized late on Sunday after its advertising campaign for Belo Men drew flak for supposedly "racist" undertones.
 
To launch a line of skin whitening products, Belo Men recently unveiled a series of advertisements, including one which has the caption "10% lighter. 100% more sosyal," with the young man throwing his car keys to a valet.

Facebook users posted negative comments about the ads on Belo Men's page on the popular social networking site.

"If a lot of people are getting offended about it, we apologize about that. But it wasn't our intention," Belo's daughter Cristalle Henares said in an interview with ABS-CBNnews.com on Sunday night.

"And it's not really about the sosyal. That was just the execution. The idea behind it is as they get whiter, they became more confident," she explained.

Belo added that in her 22 years of medical practice, she noticed that skin whitening is the most popular procedure asked by their customers.

"And men have always been looking for something for them," she said.

This is why Belo came out with a whitening product specifically for men.

"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," the doctor said.

"I gave in to what they want. That's (skin whitening) the No. 1 talaga na hinihingi sa clinic, both men and women," she added.

Henares added that Belo Men as a brand has a more humorous personality -- which she said was reflected in the series of ads.

The other executions are: "10% lighter. 100% approved," with an elderly man showing off his future son-in-law to his golf buddies; and "10% lighter. 100% more numbers," with a guy surrounded by three sexy girls, holding their cellphones.

"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 diretso, we had to make it a little more humorous," Henares said.

Henares also said the campaign was planned before the launch of Bayo's much-maligned "What's your mix" campaign, which has since been discontinued after it was heavily criticized for being racist.

"Actually it was planned before the whole Bayo thing happened. Nagkataon lang na medyo sabay ang launch namin. And when the Bayo thing happened, we said, 'Oh no, because of the percentages, people might think that they have the same connotation. So when the Bayo thing happened, we said why don't we lay low for now. So we put it down first sa Facebook. And we released it in just one magazine, which is FHM," she explained.

But with the negative reaction on social media, Henares said they will decide on what to do with the campaign.

"If we feel that it's a sensitive topic right now, we're going to park it a bit and see where it goes," Henares said.