What on Earth Was Dove Soap Thinking With This Ad?

Dove soap has earned a reputation over the last decade for thinking outside the box when it comes to adveritising their beauty and soap products. They’ve launched multiple campaigns featuring women of varying body types and weight. They’ve partnered with famed African-American screenwriter Shonda Rhimes to highlight women of color and diverse shapes. One of their latest slogans is “Be your beautiful self”.

It makes an ad image released on the Dove Facebook page that much more perplexing. In one media image there are four frames. The first two feature a smiling black woman next to a bottle of Dove body wash. The second image show her starting to remover her shirt. The shirt flips up over her head to reveal a white shirt underneath in the third image. In the fourth image the woman peels the shirt off over her head to reveal a white, red-haired woman.

Understandably, people immediately began asking questions.

But seriously…what exactly is happening here?

As a seasoned reporter I’ve learned that there is always more to the story. If something seems unbelievable it’s generally because it’s not true. Reading beyond a hysterical headline will often reveal a much less salacious story that’s been blown out of proportion by click-seeking writers.

This Dove ad was simply one still image. Perhaps there were other slides that revealed something more about the intent? Or maybe Dove would offer an explanation, some clue to an expanded campaign with different intentions. Maybe this was just a poorly chosen frame?

Astoundingly, Dove’s “explanation” only made the entire incident even more perplexing.

The Facebook version of their apology wasn’t much more enlightening.

“Missed the mark” is an understatement, to say the least. What was even the mark in the first place? Reactions across social media were appropriately confused and outraged.

https://twitter.com/Trisha_Bateman/status/916833655665946624

It is absolutely impossible to imagine how this ad went all the way through the approval process and through the social media team without anyone considering that this might not be a great idea.

Given the history of racism in ads for cleaning products, it really is astounding.

https://twitter.com/jonalisag/status/916846966272942081