In a glaring error in judgement Dove released a three second GIF introduced with the line “Ready for a Dove Shower?” to promote their body wash that shows a black woman peeling off a dark shirt and transforming into a white woman in a beige shirt. The white woman peels off her shirt to reveal another woman which led to a furious debate on racism and whitewashing.
According to the Guardian, American make-up artist Naomi Blake took screen shots of the ad and shared them, commenting: “So I’m scrolling through Facebook and this is the #dove ad that comes up … ok so what am I looking at.”
— Habeeb Akande (@Habeeb_Akande) October 8, 2017
The response on social media was swift and damning as is to be expected, with many questioning why Dove would feature the dark-skinned woman first.
Dove then issued an apology on Twitter, “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused,” the brand owned by Unilever, Tweeted. The offending ad has since been removed.
An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.
— Dove (@Dove) October 7, 2017
Ava DuVernay, an award-winning African-American film director, denounced Dove for the above tweet, writing on Twitter: “You can do better than ‘missed the mark’. Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offence. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here.”
The company has since issued a separate statement, saying the ad “did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened.” “We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”
— Dove (@Dove) October 9, 2017
But the internet does not forget and people brought out receipts of the brands previous transgressions. In 2011, Dove came under fire for its VisibleCare product. In that campaign, three women; one black, one Latina, and one white; stood in front of “before” and “after” signs to promote the body wash.
You have done it in the past.🙄 pic.twitter.com/qaGG10bePw
— Nonhlanhla Mabhena (@N0n0zA) October 7, 2017
In another instance in back in 2015, Dove was at the centre of similar controversy after it released a summer glow cream advertised for use on “normal to dark skin.” Despite the brand apologizing for its word choice, saying that the bottle should have been labeled “medium to dark skin,” Dove still currently sells the “normal to dark” packaging.
Many people see this latest ad as just another in a string of marketing efforts from Dove that elevates white beauty above that of women of color thus echoing racist themes that have long been used in the marketing of products.
Its all very contradictory as the brand has for more than a decade tried to take a socially conscious stance on beauty. Its ads have frequently used models of various body weights, ages and races. The campaigns “My Beauty My Say,” “Real Beauty,” and “#BeautyBias” have been applauded for their depictions of diversity and promotion of self confidence.
But it’s three strikes and your out as these continued instances show although known for its social consciousness the brand evidently has alarming undertones of racism and prejudice.
It’s not a new thing. They know what they are doing. pic.twitter.com/w1caubZsEV
— Complexion Magazine (@ComplexionMag) October 8, 2017
— Lil Nick (@nickkerr1961) October 9, 2017