Dove caused a huge public outcry on social media this weekend after posting a new ad for their body wash on their Facebook page.
The ad, a three second GIF, promotes Dove's body wash and starts by showing a black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a white woman in a beige shirt. The ad then ends with the white woman who peels off her shirt to reveal another woman of apparently Asian descent.
After facing immense backlash, it was eventually removed from the company’s Facebook page and an apology was issued, with the personal skincare brand saying they completely "missed the mark".
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
Dove South Africa also apologised on Twitter, adding that the ad "did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened".
People aren't accepting their apology, especially considering this is not the first racially insulting ad that the Unilever brand has made.
Ava DuVernay, an award-winning African-American film director, denounced Dove, writing on Twitter: “You can do better than ‘missed the mark’. Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offence. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here."
NO, Dove. take a seat and *explain yourself.* This doesn't miss the mark, it makes a CLEAR statement that black women are dirty.— Patricia (@Trisha_Bateman) October 8, 2017
Although the response by many was damning, others defended the company, arguing that people are deliberately ignoring the final frame and that the ad simply illustrates that the product is suitable for women with all skin types.
It's simply showing three women whose skin is now not as dry as it was before...— Sharon Fitzwilliam (@AuntieVelouria) October 9, 2017
Have you seen the original ad? This snap is completely out of context to stir shit. The white woman then reveals an Asian lady...— HAFP (@HollyAmber84) October 8, 2017
Since the beauty company drew attention over their overtly racist ad a few years ago it is perhaps difficult to accept that their recent ad was unintentionally racially insulting. The brand came under fire over a similar fumble back in 2011 for its VisibleCare product. Author and broadcaster Keith Boykin tweeted, "One racist ad makes you a suspect. Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty."
Racist soap ads are not new. The notion of scrubbing your skin until a white layer is revealed is a marketing concept employed by companies for more than a century.
Here are seven more shockingly tone-deaf ads that have us dumbfounded as to how a whole marketing team sat down with the ideas and got the go-ahead to make them public.
1. SalesGenie and their talking pandas, with accents
The sponsor of two commercials during 2008's Super Bowl for Salesgenie.com depicted a panda bear named Ling Ling. Struggling to make sales from his bamboo store, Ling Ling conveyed a grammar-challenged dialogue in a heavy Asian accent. In comes the genie panda but she does not have an Asian accent. After facing immense criticism, the chairman and chief executive of InfoUSA in Omaha, Vinod Gupta, apologised and pulled the ad.
2. Sony's PSP giant billboard
The PlayStation Portable ad ran in the Netherlands in 2006 and showed a very tough looking white woman dressed in white gripping a black woman dressed in black by the jaw with the slogan: "PlayStation Portable White is coming." It's ten years later, and people haven't forgotten.
3. Nivea's "White is Purity"
An ad for Nivea deodorant which was initially posted to its Middle Eastern Facebook page was removed 48 hours later. The German skin care company released a deodorant ad featuring a long-haired white woman wearing all white with the slogan "White is purity." After being slammed as racist, the company quickly removed the ad, but the internet is forever and like the PSP ad, it will never be forgotten.
4. Kendall Jenner and the Pepsi protest-themed ad
Nivea was not the only one that suffered from a marketing backlash that week. The Pepsi ad that commercialised activism shows Jenner ditching a photographic shoot to join young protesters. There the model hands an ice cold can of Pepsi to a riot officer sparking applause from the crowd.
The moment where Jenner approaches a line of officers is a clear reference to the iconic image of Ieshia Evans, a female protestor standing firmly while being confronted by riot officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Baton Rouge after Alton Sterling was fatally shot by police last year.
In a statement, Pepsi admitted to "trying to project a global a message of unity, peace, and understanding," but boy did they get it wrong.
5. Qiaobi's racist laundry ad
The Chinese brand sparked massive outrage from people across the globe when they released a commercial depicting an Asian woman who is joined by a young black man. The man walks toward the woman, exchanging flirtatious advances. The woman lures him in close enough for a kiss, shoves a detergent pod into his mouth and forces him head-first into the washing machine.
When the cycle is complete, an Asian man emerges from the machine in the same outfit. The commercial ends with the woman delighted with the result and the closing voiceover, “Change, it all starts from Qiaobi laundry detergent pod.”
6. Seoul Secret's skin lightening ad depicting black face
The Thai beauty ad for a whitening pill equates white skin to "winning", and the Thai celebrity talks about the importance of investing in maintaining whiteness. Based on the narrative, the consequence of neglecting whiteness upkeep is a gradual darkening of the skin.
Seoul Secret retracted the ad and said their true intention was to "convey... that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills, and professionality is crucial.”
7. Nivea's "Re-Civilize Yourself" campaign
The 2011 ad was featured in Esquire magazine and featured a black man holding a decapitated head of a man sporting an afro and a beard. The ad used shaming tactics and communicated that in using the Nivea product, you're essentially re-civilising yourself since you'll be clean-cut. Just another ad that shockingly got through several levels of approval.