Dove has come under fire on social media for a racist body wash ad, which has since been removed. The soap ad featured a black woman removing her shirt to miraculously become a white woman, who then removes her shirt and turns into an Asian woman.
have you even seen the full ad? pic.twitter.com/Ah6aY8nunE
— ζんﾑㄎ乇 ｱ (@ChaseHenryP) October 8, 2017
In a statement to Marketing, Dove's spokesperson said the three-second video clip was posted on to the US Facebook page as part of a campaign for Dove body wash. It did not represent the diversity of real beauty, something which Dove is passionate about and is core to its beliefs.
"We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience," the spokesperson added.
The company also apologised on Facebook and Twitter for having "missed the mark in thoughtfully representing" women of colour and deeply regretted the offence it has caused. It added that it is devoted to representing the "beauty of diversity". The post picked up by make up artist Naythemua, before being deleted saw over 3.4k reactions from Facebook users, 9.8k shares and 1.1k shares on Facebook. On the post, netizens called the ad "insensitive", adding that the execution made them feel "uncomfortable".
Netizens on Twitter also came out in full force and criticised the apology for being "weak" and threatened to boycott the brand.
What I don't get it how these campaigns even MAKE it past the approval process. Big Big companies moving foolish.
— Young Gambino (@EnClaudeNeuf) October 8, 2017
Perhaps it is time to look at the diversity of your ad and marketing team. Hiring women of color as decision makers, prevents these missteps — Janeen Jackson (@janejax) October 8, 2017
One netizen pointed out that this was not the first time Dove had released a racist ad. In 2011, the company launched a Dove Visible Care body wash ad featuring three woman standing in front of the wall which was divided into "before" and "after" panels. The women's skin tone became gradually lighter from left to right.
You have done it in the past.pic.twitter.com/qaGG10bePw
— Nonhlanhla Mabhena (@N0n0zA) October 7, 2017
According to NBC News, Dove had then wanted to showcase the benefits of using its body wash product, and the women were intended to demonstrate the after effects. It added that it does not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults consumers.
The move by the brand comes across as somewhat ironic given that it has always been seen as a brand that championed body positivity and diversity, having launched campaigns such as "#BeautyBias", "Dove self-esteem project" and "My Beauty, My Say".
Meanwhile in China, an ad by Qiaobi, a laundry detergent brand, also copped flak for its blatantly racist ad featuring a woman doing her laundry when a black man splattered with paint appeared. She then proceeded to stuff a laundry detergent capsule in his mouth before shoving him into the washing machine. When the load of laundry was done, a young fair Asian man with a clean shirt climbed out of the machine.
Qiaobi apologised for the "harm [it] caused to the African people" as a result of the ad and "over-amplification by the media". Netizens commented it was "the most racist ad" they have seen.
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