This is what we’ve come to as a nation and as a society. We’ve come to a point where an entire advertising and presumably executive team from an international company approved an ad that has blatantly racist imagery. Then, after people pointed out that the ad was racist, the company apologized “for the offense it caused.” This is from Dove, the company that touts diversity in their commercials and print ads, often with tear-jerking personal stories, commentary on unrealistic beauty standards, and featuring everyday women of all body shapes and backgrounds. Remember some of the ads that Dove has run through the years underlining this point and trying to appeal to all women? Well this time they really stepped in it. They posted a gif of an ad on their social media featuring an African-American woman lifting up her (brown) shirt to reveal a white woman in a white shirt. After that, the white woman turned into an Latina woman. People were of course outraged and asked Dove for clarification. They initially posted a tweet that the ad “missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully ” and added that they “deeply regret the offense it caused.” They’ve finally offered a longer apology, but it sounds weak to me.
“As a part of a campaign for Dove Body Wash, a 3-second video clip was posted to the US Facebook page which featured three women of different ethnicities, each removing a t-shirt to reveal the next woman. The short video was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong. It 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. This should not have happened and we are re-evaluating our internal processes for creating and approving content to prevent us making this type of mistake in future. We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”
Did you see the words “racist” or “discrimination” anywhere? This apology could have been so much stronger. How about something like “We’re horrified that this ad had racist imagery and while that was not our intent we see how the final result was racist. Dove is committed to diversity and stands against racism and discrimination. We will work harder to ensure that we don’t make such a glaring and deeply offensive error in the future. We’re truly sorry that this happened and we will work to ensure that we have more diversity at all levels of our creative and decision making process.” There you go. None of that “we’re sorry that you took offense” crap. NO. Just say “WE WERE OFFENSIVE, THIS WAS RACIST.” They “do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience” because they don’t want people to stop buying what they’re selling. They should have admitted this had racist imagery but they won’t do that because they think it’s other people’s fault for being offended and that it was a specific audience that was insulted.
You know who did a commercial for Dove earlier this year? Shonda Rhimes. She made an ad featuring Cathleen Meredith of Fat Girls Dance. Rhimes said at the time that she found a natural fit working with Dove because “the fact that they stand for celebrating women in all their forms and empowering women and redefining beauty felt in tune, not just with how I live my life, but how I do my work.” Rhimes has not tweeted or Instagrammed about this as of press time.
In related news, the model featured first in the “before” section, Nigerian-born Lola Ogunyemi, says that the ad is being taken out of context, that the gif circulated comes from a longer commercial, and that she never felt uncomfortable on set. You can read her comments here
Here’s the gif, it’s in this video
You can do better than "missed the mark." Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offense. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 8, 2017
the racist dove ad is a continuation of a long history of racist soap advertising pic.twitter.com/nO7iDT7dxH
— /kaw·reɪdʒ/ (@kawrage) October 8, 2017
One racist ad makes you suspect.
Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 8, 2017