Phoebe Parke | Social Media Editor | Monday, 9 October 2017

Here’s What’s Wrong With Dove’s ‘Racist’ Facebook Ad

Here’s What’s Wrong With Dove’s ‘Racist’ Facebook Ad

The Debrief: A black woman turning into a white one was always going to be problematic.

A Dove Facebook advert showing a black woman turning into a white one has been taken down after backlash on social media. 

The video advert for a Dove body wash was widely criticised after American makeup artist Naomi Blake posted screenshots from it 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 also commented directly on the brand’s Facebook post, asking what the message was supposed to be, and whether they had asked any black employees at Dove their opinion on the ad, to which they replied within an hour, saying; ‘The content featured demonstrates the benefits of our Dove Body Wash for every type of skin. It offers 100% gentle cleansers, is sulfate free and is #1 Dermatologist recommended. We are committed to representing beauty of all ages, ethnicities, shapes and sizes and to listen to all women’s needs and create great products.’ 

As the backlash over the ad continued, and the screenshots travelled across to Twitter and Instagram, the brand was forced to remove the advert and apologise in a statement on Twitter, saying they ‘missed the mark.’  

With such a lack of diversity in advertising, especially among beauty and cosmetics brands, it’s no surprise that consumers call brands out when they get representation wrong.  

For some, the Dove video was reminiscent of the racist adverts of yesteryear, ones that promoted skin bleaching, showed black people as dirty, and spread the idea that black skin was less than desirable. 


These adverts are an all too recent memory, and a painful reminder of what used to be ‘acceptable’ in advertising.  



However, as this story developed, it became clear that many hadn’t watched the whole advert, and had relied on the screenshots posted by Blake and others.


With the full video having been pulled offline, people could only go by the screenshots still circulating. 

 It turned out that there were actually three woman in the video, this revelation changed the game for some people.  



But this is not the first time Dove has landed in hot water over controversial advertising, the brand once showed cracked black skin as the undesirable ‘before’ picture, and moisturised white skin as the ‘after’ result in another ad campaign that was widely criticised online. 



Among the outrage, content creators have used this moment to create videos parodying the ad, riding off the wave of people trying to find out what all the fuss is about. 


Their exaggerated videos might help some skeptics understand why the ad was so offensive, but I’d say any advert where a woman’s skin colour changes at the lift of a T-Shirt will likely ‘miss the mark.’


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Yes, The UK Does Have A Race Problem. And It's Just As Troubling As America's  


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