The firm has apologized and pulled the video from YouTube and Facebook which featured 35-year-old Horwang saying; ”If I stop taking care of myself, everything I have worked for, the whiteness I have invested in may be lost.”
She is then accompanied by another pale model where she looks on enviously and adds: “The new kids will replace me, will make me a faded star” as her skin visibly becomes dark.
The clip comes to a close with the narrator stating that the product 'Snowz' includes glutathione, a compound taken from kiwi seeds that “helps you not return to black”.
As the backlash rolled in, Seoul Secret publicly stated: “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.”
And added; "We would like to express a heartfelt apology. We have removed the video clip, related advertisements and other planned materials to show our responsibility in this incident.”
Are Asian beauty brands taking the whitening message too far?
They say provocative campaigns sell, but are the messages of 'life success' that accompany skin whitening products getting out of hand?
Skin lightening is nothing new in Asia, but campaigns like the above are not sitting well with the West considering the hyper-awareness of race discrimination.
Although these kind of products have long been developed to lighten the face and hands, the trend has changed in recent years with beauty brands heavily investing in the message that light-coloured skin equals life success and driving desire for lightening more ‘intimate’ areas.
The most recent being a cream claiming to mask dark patches on the nipple area from Japan, ‘Pinky Queen’ which claims to act as ‘a savior for some ladies, giving them a boost in confidence’, and comes with a recommendation that it be used 4-5 times a week.
This may be shocking to the reader that hasn't heard about the shower gel launched in 2013, designed to bring ‘fairness’ for more intimate areas.
That ad featured a scenario where an attractive lady struggles to gain her man’s attention which - in a nutshell - seemed to be resolved after using this skin lightening intimate wash.