On October 8th, 2017, Dove posted a FaceBook ad showing a black woman removing her shirt to reveal a white woman. Rightfully so it sparked outrage and was removed with an apology that they missed the mark. For years, I have been an avid user of Dove. In recent years, I have made a conscious decision to support personal care products that have natural ingredients. I have changed a large number of my family products to fit this new strategy. I am ashamed to learn that I continued to use a product that not only contains toxic ingredients but has previously had a racist ad in 2014.
I believe that the ad’s intent was to show diversity with the use of women of different races. However, I really don’t understand what skin color has to do with skin type. Regardless of color, skin can be classified as dry, oily, normal, or combination. The ad showed a black woman taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman. This implies that Dove can cleanse and change black skin to clean white skin. It also shows a body wash product that is for normal to dark skin. Historically, ads have been used to show that when compared to white skin darker skin tones are undesirable. Although they prefer to not acknowledge the history of racist ads, it still exists and is not erased just because the company chooses to ignore it. The truth is, we as black people have endured several hundred years of oppression and racism. As the old saying goes when someone shows you who they are believe them. Although, I was not aware of the ad in 2014, I know now.
Knowledge is power and I will no longer use my hard earned money to support a brand that does not value or respect me as a consumer. This ad also shows a lack of diversity within the company, as a result they were not able to appeal to black women. How can you appeal to a diverse market if you do not understand their culture and history. Obviously there is no diversity within the leadership of the company. Representation in corporate leadership helps to ensure that groups are not misrepresented. This has inspired me to not only continue to research product ingredients, but to research companies reported acts of racism and discrimination. Dove is not the first and will not be the last to make this type of marketing catastrophe.