Soap company Dove's powerful advertising campaigns have sometimes stirred people to tears — and sometimes moved them to rage. In the latest chapter of controversy, Dove has issued an apology for a racially insensitive ad recently posted to Facebook.
"An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully," read a statement posted to Twitter on Saturday. "We deeply regret the offense it caused."
In the ad, which was reposted by makeup artist Naomi Leann Blake and others on social media, a black woman wearing a dark brown shirt strips off her top layer and morphs into a white woman wearing a lighter shirt. The white woman then removes her shirt and becomes a woman of apparently Asian descent.
The idea, it would seem, was to use the visual transition to show the product is meant for all women. The execution was ... iffy, with many saying it seemed to imply washing away the darker shade as one might a layer of dirt.
Twitter users weren't sold on the apology, with many expressing frustrations that the ad was approved in the first place.
Others pointed out that this wasn't the first time Dove had made such a gaffe. A controversial 2011 ad showed women who are gradually lighter in skin color standing in front of the words "before" and "after."
After getting backlash, Dove clarified that all three women were meant to represent the "after."
"We believe that real beauty comes in many shapes, sizes, colors and ages and are committed to featuring realistic and attainable images of beauty in all our advertising," Dove said in a statement to Gawker at the time. "We are also dedicated to educating and encouraging all women and girls to build a positive relationship with beauty, to help raise self-esteem and to enable them to realize their full potential."
In each case, the ad's underlying implications may have been an honest mistake — but the hurt many feel over Dove's lack of discretion is real. By taking on issues such as body positivity and racial diversity, Dove has attempted to speak for those customers. Now, they may need to spend more time listening to how they can do so effectively.