Dove apologized and pulled down an online soap ad in which a black woman pulled up her shirt to reveal a white redheaded woman underneath. The ad, which has since been removed from Facebook, drew fire from beauty blogger and makeup artist Naythemua. “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully,” Dove tweeted on Saturday. “We deeply regret the offense it caused.
On its Facebook page, Dove issued a longer statement, adding, “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity.” The company said again it had missed the mark and expressed regret.
“The feedback that has been shared is important to us,” the message continued, “and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.” The deleted advertisement comes about five months after another Dove marketing move with body wash came under fire. At least the “Real Beauty Bottles” drew mixed reviews — unlike what seems to be a universal panning of Saturday’s ad. The “Real Beauty Bottles” featured body wash containers sold in varying shapes, meaning to convey beauty in all body types — whether slender, round, curvy, tall or squat.
Some thought it was great. “Well done Dove,” wrote one observer on Twitter. But Dove got a lot of backlash then, as well, including this Twitter response: “Great. Now our soap bottles are judging us too…”
None of Dove’s statements on the Facebook advertisement this week described what the company’s intent had been in making the ad. Many commentators in social media shared historical images in which other soap companies over time played on the idea that white was clean and black was unclean. “The historical context makes this sooo much worse,” one responder wrote, adding in a photo of a Dove’s “Summer Glow” nourishing lotion which the bottle said was for “normal to dark skin.”
But the Twitterverse was not impressed, decrying the ad and the brand’s history of questionable marketing for its products. “My being black is symbolic of dirt? This is pure racism,” one tweeted.