Belo comes under fire on social media for ‘Pandemic Effect’ ad

The Belo Medical Group was criticized on Tuesday, August 10 for a video ad portraying a woman who "let herself go" during the pandemic.

In the minute-and-a-half long video, a woman is seen turning on the TV and watching a barrage of bad news. As she does so, her appearance changes – the skin under her eyes darkens, she gets acne, grows facial and body hair, and gains weight.

She then goes on a video call, and the person on the other end of the line asks her “anong nangyari (what happened)?”

The ad ends with a tagline that reads “tough times call for beautiful measures” and a call to book a consultation with Belo.

By late August 10, the video had been taken down from Belo's official social media accounts.

The ad is part of a campaign using the hashtag #PandemicEffect, which includes social media posts from several celebrities such as Gabbi Garcia, Claudia Barretto, and Saab Magalona.

It was created with ad agency Gigil, which said in a release that the ad meant to portray something many people experienced in the pandemic.

“Being in lockdown gave us less reasons to care about how we look, since we’re all stuck at home. Much of our time is also spent hearing stressful news. And we absorb this negative energy that manifests itself in our appearance, without us even realizing it. (That is, until we look in the mirror.)”

“This pandemic has been exhausting. Luckily, Belo reminds us that it’s here to take care of us,” they said.

People online spoke up against the ad, criticizing it for being tone deaf and body shaming women in the middle of a pandemic.

"Our bodies have kept us alive through a deadly global pandemic we shouldnt be shamed into booking fucking consultation w Belo??" said
Twitter user @djdumapit.

Another Twitter user, @lakwatsarah, said that the ad was "out of touch, tasteless, and insensitive." She added that "it also ignores what the '#PandemicEffect' is for many," and pointed out that for a lot of people, the "#PandemicEffect" meant losing jobs and loved ones.

"This puts women, especially with PCOS and anxiety, in such a bad light. Wrong move, Belo Beauty," said one Sofia Costales, commenting on the video on YouTube.

Tricia Salonga, a commenter on Facebook, said that the ad was "not empowering," and pointed out that "when the world is already burning, syempre (of course) you have your priorities in order."

Responding to her comment, Belo Medical Group said "You're right, Tricia. Everyone's top priority throughout the pandemic was to keep safe and healthy. Inevitably, our physical appearance became less important. But we can't deny that the way we look on the outside can affect the way we feel on the inside."

"Dr. [Vicki] Belo once said, 'A millimeter-long scar on the face is a kilometer-long scar in the heart.' This was just a reminder to our patients and everyone that if you’re ready to make the decision to take care of yourself again, we are here to help. Ready when you are," they added.

This isn't the first time that a Belo ad was criticized online. In 2012, the brand ran a campaign for its men's line that said "a little whitening makes a big difference." – Rappler.com