Dove, a personal care brand, has been compelled to issue an apology after releasing a series of “racist” images that seemed to show a black woman turning white after using the soap.
The “deeply ignorant” campaign depicts a black woman peeling off her T-shirt to unveil a white woman underneath her skin. A further image presents the white woman undressing to unveil an Asian woman.
Owned by Unilever, a consumer goods giant, Dove wrote in a tweet: “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of colour thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offence it caused.”
It was not clear which market was targeted with the ads. However, Naythemua, a makeup artist who first posted the said images on Facebook, said that the campaign was “tone deaf” and symbolic of the messages that black people in the United States receive regarding their skin colour.
“What does America tell black people … that we are judged by the colour of our skin, and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country,” wrote Naythemua. “To know that colourism is a problem in the world, that includes bleaching the skin, and they would put this ad out without a thought … the tone-deafness in these companies makes no sense.”
Dooga Royall, a customer, stated: “What is Dove even trying to convey besides blatant racism?”
Sha Nii, another customer, pledged to boycott Dove: “I mean that’s what I use today but no more Dove for me racism will never end.”
It’s not the first time that the brand has found itself in hot water over its messages in its marketing schemes. In 2011, a Dove campaign spurred widespread criticism after appearing to portray women becoming cleaner as their skin tone lightened.
At the time, the brand said in a statement: “All three women are intended to demonstrate the “after” product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”