Thai skin whitening advert causes outrage

Seoul Secret apologises after being caught up in race row

An advert for whitening pills by supplement brand Seoul Secret has caused outrage worldwide after using the tagline “white is winning”. The advert promotes Snowz pills which Seoul Secret says will lighten skin within two weeks of use.

The video clip, uploaded to YouTube and Facebook yesterday, features 35-year-old Thai model and actress Cris Horwang. In the video she says: “If I stopped taking care of my body and white complexion, all that I have invested will be gone.” After she says this, her skin is shown darkening until it is completely black. A second pale model then appears smiling next to Horwang who looks on enviously and adds: “A newcomer will replace me and turn me into a dark star.” The ad ends with a narrator using the slogan: “white is winning!”

This morning Seoul Secret removed the clip and responded to the criticism. In a statement, it said: “Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages. What we intended to convey was that self-improvement, in terms of personality, appearance, skills and professionalism, is crucial.”

The company added: “We would like to express a heartfelt apology and thank you for all the comments. Currently, we have removed the video clip, related advertisements and other planned materials to show our responsibility in this incident.”

While whitening pills and creams remain popular in Thailand, consumers are said to be increasingly accepting of natural, tanned skin. In 2014 Maeya Nonthawan became the first darker-skinned contestant to win the Miss Thailand beauty pageant and a local magazine celebrating darker complexions, TAN, launched in December last year.

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