I never realized this during my decade long stay abroad in Moscow, Oxford, London and other locations. But since returning to India and working for different companies (2008 onwards), one of the core Marketing tricks that I’ve picked up – which defies all rules of MBA learning you can learn anywhere on Earth – “White Skin works like magic in India“.
My fiancée is Ukrainian; and she absolutely loves India, its culture, food and people. During my stay abroad, this Indian fetish for white skin kinda never struck
me. Even when I was dating her and we fell in love; it was never the fetish which was a deciding factor. Not that I can recall now anyways. I mostly had absolutely gorgeous Russian, Ukrainain & East European friends in college (since I did my BTech in Moscow and Russian & Ukrainian women are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and gorgeous women on Earth), and mostly British, Irish and lots of Russian friends again in Oxford and later on in London whilst working. But never kinda struck me as such.
Since returning to India and working in Digital Marketing – one of the core aspects that I picked up from A/B (or Split test) results on email marketing campaign(s), website landing-page optimization(s), and banner click (CPC) ad campaign(s) – creatives with “models with white skins always tend to perform better“. When working in some of my previous jobs, I always took this as an anomaly; but time and again, was proved wrong. Campaigns with identical subject lines, content, copy and landing page – the one with “firangi” models outperformed Indians (read – tanned or dusky models) by massive margins.
And then came the invasion of the likes of Katrina Kaif, Yana Gupta and others in Bollywood (click here for the complete list of Firangi babes in Bollywood. Unfortunately, none can act!!). Now confirmed, yes, Indian men (and women as well, to a degree) are completely addicted to the white skin. Doesn’t matter – the girl may have no skills, maybe, she’s ugly as a horse, but doesn’t matter – she’s an angel as long as she’s European or an American.
Thus, e-Commerce portals in India; have been using this to their maximum benefit. Check out the creatives from some of the companies; showcasing all firangi models.
Quintessentially, this brings to the question – WHY is it so?
I believe – owing to 2 reasons:
a) The way the Western World is depicted in movies in India. A white girl is ideally a “slut” – is the common & established belief amongst 99% male population in India. The most commonly asked question (to me) from all my friends when I returned to India after over a decade was – “Dude, is SEX free in UK?“, “Dude, can you pick up anyone in club?” , “Dude, you must have gotten laid every day, right?“. Had a very tough time explaining that not all white girls are sluts. And vice-versa. In fact, met some Indian desi girls in Delhi who were worse than the worst encountered in London (but contrary to beliefs).
b) The superior race is depicted to be White. Be it Aryans or not, its a common belief, anything and everything associated with something of the white skin, is better. Means, say, I have a company making “electronics in China” named as “Subhasish Ghosh & Co.” and modeled by an Indian girl; and my friend has an identical company making “electronics in China” named as “Steven Hobbs & Co.” and modeled by a hot firangi babe; chances are he would double his sales in 1 year, while I may need to close shop after a few years. Such is the degree of fetish in India.
Special Case: North Indians
The North Indians take this fetish to a completely different level altogether. In a wedding ceremony that I attended recently, I saw a few absolutely stunningly looking firang babes loitering around. I asked my friend – “Wow! Didnt know, you guys had firang friends!” They said – “Idiot or what! We hired them for Rs. 10,000/- for the evening!” I was like – Serious??? Yep; its a very common thing in Delhi culture to show off and the best way to show high-status – is to get a few white girls from modeling agencies; and have them loitering around. Check out Tehelka’s 2011 coverage on this.
The worst proponent in Delhi is the Page 3 scene which mostly comprises of Bollywood trash, and Euro trash. Access to firang babes means – you always get invited. Since I speak Russian fluently; got a few invitations to bring along few of my friends in Delhi; had to pass since the quality of so called celebrities attending such parties, simply put, is horrible.
The basic philosophy is around the fact – If you have access to a firang babe (doesn’t matter how ugly she looks), doors for parties / clubs / private parties / after-hour parties open up. Pretty disgusting, but thats how Indians are; Indian men, quintessentially are.
Now back to Digital Marketing?
How can you, as a Digital marketer use this “obsession” for white skin?
Thus, I’ve become smarter.
In one of my previous assignments, wherein we used to handle US clients shooting mailers in India, these were the major concerns from time to time:
- Email marketing campaign not working?
- Banner advertising campaign not working?
- CPC/CPA/CPL campaign on networks not working?
Get rid of the Indian models; and get some (skin showing) firang babe.
Results – I’m happy, clients happier. Boss happiest.
This brings us to the situation, that often, Indian models though better; are being sidelined on ramps. Does this mean – Indian modeling industry is dead? Definitely NOT. But with this continuing obsession & addiction to white skin; its becoming tougher and tougher for Indian models to break into modeling; and definitely sustain themselves without getting exploited (read – prostitution hereat).
Not sure whether Katrina Kaif can act; but from a Producers’ point of view, if Indian men flock the cinema houses to see her gyrate to the latest music and the mollahs keep coming; am sure, no one’s complaining. After all, its entertainment. Invest & have fun. As the saying goes – “Khel khatam, paisa hajam” (Once the Game finishes, Money is digested).