Beauty brand, Dove, recently missed the mark with a social media advertisement promoting its Deep Moisture Body Wash. The campaign first features a black woman in a brown t-shirt who removes her top, transforming into a white woman wearing a cream t-shirt who removes her top (and, again, transforms into an Asian woman wearing a beige t-shirt). Observed by makeup artist and blogger, Naomi Blake, the images were reposted on her Facebook page with the caption, “So I’m scrolling through Facebook and this is the #dove ad that comes up …. ok so what am I looking at …” Blake’s post focusing on Dove’s alleged racial-insensitivity went viral over the weekend and by Saturday, the Unilever brand issued an apology: “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.”
Dove’s public relations firm, Edelman, issued its own statement: “As a part of a campaign for Dove Body Wash, a 3-second video clip was posted to the U.S. Facebook page. This 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 have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.” The backlash against the beauty brand has been harsh, especially as it is clear that Dove embraces diversity in its media campaigns. It partners with the Warrior Woman Project for body positivity, encourages diversity through its thirteen year-old #RealBeauty campaign, and has even launched The Dove Self Esteem Project.
Poorly articulated, yes. But racist? Probably not. Next time, Dove, please ditch the clichéd colored t-shirts — as its BCA why not think pink??