In October 2017, Dove posted an ad on Facebook in efforts to promote their body wash. The three-second video featured three young women of different ethnicities, each pulling off their shirts to reveal the next woman. Controversy sparked from the ad due to a young black woman pulling off her dark brown shirt to reveal a young white woman in a nude shirt.
Social media users were immediately upset, claiming that the ad was “racist” and that it portrayed black women as less clean than white women. Dove removed the ad and posted a message on their Facebook and Twitter pages stating that, “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.”
A few days later, Dove posted on their social media to once again apologize and to explain that the video was intended to “convey that Dove body wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity.”
Nigerian model Lola Ogunyemi, who was the black woman in the ad, defended the ad, telling The Guardian, “Having the opportunity to represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfect way for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued.” She also added that “the narrative has been written without giving the consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.”
Following the release of the ad, many people mentioned how the racist advertising of soap has been done several times before and how this was just a “continuation” of the past. Not only that, but Dove had previously posted another controversial ad in 2011 that was also considered racist. Would this ad be deemed racist if people understood the context of it? Should Dove had explained the ad before running it, or should they have not run it at all?