After what has been a lengthy hiatus, P&G recently reintroduced the Camay line of soaps, deodorants and lotions back into the market to compete in the multi million shilling Kenyan beauty market. Their products have received positive feedback from the consumer market, however their adverts leave very little to be desired.
You’ve probably seen the Camay advert, and probably the catchy tune has gotten stuck in your head. The lyrics to the jingle are:
“He’s always in a hurry, but now no need to worry
I know my way to his heart, New Camay soap with a perfume drop that lasts, oh so long….
I’m a Camay kind of woman, True African woman (you’re the queen of my heart)
I’m a Camay kind of woman, True African woman.”
In it a wife tries to get her husband’s attention but he appears to be distracted and in a hurry to leave the house. After a moment of consideration the said wife unwraps a bar of Camay soap and proceeds to shower (presumably again, as she is already well-dressed at the beginning of the advert.) She then goes to find her husband in what seems to be a clothing store and proceeds to dazzle him and everyone else present.
The lotion advert also follows a similar storyline; her husband is now watching football and her attempts to distract him are proving futile. The next scene is of her applying Camay lotion and changing her attire. When she reenters the living room, her husband tosses away the remote and they leave to go on a date. Just like the soap advert, the lotion ad ends with him lifting her in the air singing “you’re the queen of my heart.”
These adverts are very problematic. The concept is that the only way her husband will stop treating her like she is a nuisance is if she decides to use Camay products. It reinforces outdated stereotypes that women are supposed to look and smell pretty purely for the benefit of men. These adverts are targeting women are they not? So why is it that their scent only seems to benefit the husband and those around him? Why is it that this ‘true African woman‘ as the jingle implies, does not want to smell good for herself?
These adverts imply that if anything is wrong with a relationship it is the woman’s place to fix it. If her husband is bored or distracted it is not maybe due to his own personal feelings, it has to be something that she has done and it is up to her to fix it.
Lets face it, the beauty and fashion industry is built around playing on women’s insecurities, from the length of their hair to the shape of their eyebrows. This however does not give Camay full disclosure to continue perpetuating these sexist stereotypes. One drop of perfume will not fix a marriage. There are numerous better ways to approach the female market and offending them is not the way to do it.