A Facebook ad by Dove that aimed to represent “women of color thoughtfully” quickly disappeared this weekend after it instead incurred intense social media backlash.
The ad, according to images captured on screen shots, showed a black woman in a brown shirt, who then removed the shirt to reveal a white woman in a light-colored shirt.
And this was an advertisement for body wash, with the Dove bottle sitting before the woman on the bathroom counter in front of her.
Whatever the soap company intended to say in the ad, many viewers saw an offensive message.
Said one respondent on Twitter:
“White = Clean
“Black = Dirty
“The World According to #Dove”
After taking the ad down, Dove issued an apology, saying, “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.”
On its Facebook page, Dove issued a longer statement, adding, “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity.” The company said again it had missed the mark and expressed regret.
“The feedback that has been shared is important to us,” the message continued, “and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”
The deleted advertisement comes about five months after another Dove marketing move with body wash came under fire.
At least the “Real Beauty Bottles” drew mixed reviews — unlike what seems to be a universal panning of Saturday’s ad.
The “Real Beauty Bottles” featured body wash containers sold in varying shapes, meaning to convey beauty in all body types — whether slender, round, curvy, tall or squat.
Some thought it was great.
“Well done Dove,” wrote one observer on Twitter.
But Dove got a lot of backlash then, as well, including this Twitter response:
“Great. Now our soap bottles are judging us too…”
None of Dove’s statements on the Facebook advertisement this week described what the company’s intent had been in making the ad.
Many commentators in social media shared historical images in which other soap companies over time played on the idea that white was clean and black was unclean.
“The historical context makes this sooo much worse,” one responder wrote, adding in a photo of a Dove’s “Summer Glow” nourishing lotion which the bottle said was for “normal to dark skin.”