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Thai skin-whitening ad sparks outrage on social media

An advertisement for a 'skin-whitening' product in Thailand has drawn criticism on social media.

The ad features one actress whose skin gets darker next to a rival with light skin. Picture: @RichardBarrow via Twitter.

BANGKOK - An advertisement for a skin-whitening product in Thailand has drawn criticism on social media and sparked debate over beauty ideals and advertising standards by claiming you "need to be white to win".

A pale complexion is highly valued in Thailand, particularly by women, and is associated with a high social status. Darker, tanned skin is associated with lower class people who work outside in the fields.

The advertisement, for a skin-whitening pill called "Snowz", made by Thai brand Seoul Secret, and posted on video website YouTube, features one actress whose skin gets darker next to a rival with light skin.

"You just need to be white to win," runs the tagline.

Some members of Thai-language forum Pantip.com were dismayed and angry.

"I'm perfectly fine being dark-skinned and now you're saying I've lost? Hello? What?" said member 1575141.

"Suggesting people with dark skin are losers is definitely racist," said another user.

It is the latest in a series of advertisements deemed insensitive that have drawn criticism in Thailand.

YIKES... #Thailand beauty ad repulses viewers: "Just being white, you will win" https://t.co/zXZgC11j6n pic.twitter.com/XHKkSZGJQS

This is what pro-White & anti-Black #racism looks like in Asia. It's not just in the US & Thailand, it's everywhere https://t.co/MM9sByAqIm

It's fine if people want to change their appearance by using a fake tan or whitener. Their choice. But the advert was derogatory & racist.

The video was removed from YouTube later on Friday.

Wattanapak Jinsirivanich, managing director of Yulihan Group (Thailand), the company that produces Seoul Secret beauty products, apologised and said the advert was not meant to stir controversy.

"We did not intend to create this issue," he said. "We would like to apologise and we will fix it."

"Our message is to take good care of yourself and continue to do so."

Seoul Secret releases a public apology for beauty ad that was seen as racist by many people #Thailand pic.twitter.com/sIgQzEwh3L

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