This week, Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif was announced as the new L’Oreal Paris spokesperson. She joins Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Freida Pinto and Sonam Kapoor to become the 4th Indian brand ambassador for the cosmetics giant. Before we get too excited about the appointment of an Indian actress to the long line of L’Oreal spokespeople (like it’s some kind of victory for Asians everywhere), let’s remember that L’Oreal like most other multinationals have a carefully devised marketing strategy. As India has one of the largest economies in the world, and the Indian people are experiencing high growth rates in their national income, every global company wants a piece of their spending power. Not including the most successful Bollywood actresses (albeit those who have made some cross over into the mainstream) would be missing a trick.
Cynicism aside, I think its fantastic that the likes of L’Oreal are acknowledging South Asian consumers as a serious demographic with money to spend, including us in their product range and subsequently, their marketing campaigns. Anyone remember the days of mismatched foundations that were too chalky, too pink, too ashen for the Asian skin tone? Cosmetic companies simply didn’t make foundation or any makeup specifically for Asian skin. Nowadays, some of the bigger cosmetic brands like Mac and L’Oreal do include shades and products for us. Its fantastic to be able to pick them up on the high street, rather than the few dusty products imported from overseas only found in Indian grocery stores.
And, whether we like it or not, L’Oreal and companies like them are ambassadors for what we accept as standards of beauty today. The diversity that is now reflected in the L’Oreal faces is refreshing and a welcome change from the stereotyped, narrow perceptions of beauty that we have become accustomed to seeing in the media. Having the likes of Kaif on their roster of beautiful people serves to include a broader definition of beauty, one that I would argue is much more relevant in today’s multicultural Britain.