Dove apologizes for tone deaf ad
Last week, Naomi Blake was scrolling through Facebook when a Dove ad appeared in her feed. It stopped her in her tracks because — who the hell approved this message?
The ad shows a black woman in a brown t-shirt, pulling the brown t-shirt over her head to reveal — a white woman in a white t-shirt.
Good Morning America picked up the debate, asking if the ad was a subliminal inference that “lighter is better.” The full ad shows three different women.
Blake told GMA, “We’re putting out these ads with these subliminal messages that are telling young ladies that your darker skin is not beautiful enough, you need to purify and clean yourself. This was a tone deaf ad…”
And apparently, it’s not the only racially tone deaf ad the company has released.
One racist ad makes you suspect.
Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 8, 2017
Uh, yeah. So this nonsense has clearly happened before.
What makes the ad even more problematic is the history of racism in the advertisement of soaps, as pointed out by Twitter users.
I cannot conceive of how anyone at Dove thought this ad was acceptable. This is literally how Victorian soap was advertised by Unilever… pic.twitter.com/m9HH7BVXts
— Hannah Rose Woods (@hannahrosewoods) October 8, 2017
— #THATBRANDGUY (@danielkthebe) October 8, 2017
Dove issued an apology on Twitter after the images went viral:
An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.
— Dove (@Dove) October 7, 2017
What exactly was “the mark?” How is it that not one person in that meeting said, “Um — this is really fucked up.” It leaves one wondering if there are any people of color that make decisions at Dove.
The apology misses the mark even more, considering Blake brought the problematic ad to their attention, and the company initially stood behind the imagery:
Blake commented to Dove, under the ad, “I’m gonna just say grab a black person at your company and ask them their honest opinion on this ad… what’s the message here? Or look at this from another person’s perspective and ask them what does this ad mean?” Dove responded, “The content featured advertises the benefits of our body wash for every type of skin…”
Well, note to all companies — and people, for that matter. If a person of color tells you something is problematic — listen to them. They’re giving you a free education, something they do not even need to be doing. In this case, Blake was giving Dove priceless information about how their ad was completely tone-deaf to people of color. She wasn’t initiating a debate. She even gave them advice on how to make the ad hit the mark — free of charge. “Change the order of the girls, and have a wider color range of women… brown middle eastern, brown black women, then white. If you can add a fourth shade… it could help get the message better across.”
It’s even more problematic for an ad like this to be coming from a product like Dove, who routinely uses women and our struggles with self image and self consciousness to sell soap. Remember that whole “are you beautiful or average” stunt?
For people saying that black people are overreacting on this #DoveAd , consider that maybe your humanity isn't being attacked daily.
— keep it intersectional (@Act_with_Class) October 8, 2017