BOSTON (CBS) – Dove brands is accused of sending the wrong message in a new ad that seems to show a black woman turning into a white woman. Dove has apologized saying its intention was to capture the diversity of the brand. But critics say its way off base and some even call the commercial, racist.
The ad shows three women, each lifting her T-shirt to reveal another woman. It starts with a black woman, then White, then apparently Hispanic. As soon as the spot was posted on Dove’s Facebook page, social media erupted with cries of racism at worst and thoughtlessness at best.
“As someone managing lots of brands, I would look at this and cringe,” says David Gerzof Richard who heads Big Fish PR in Brookline.
Gerzof Richard also teaches marketing at Emerson College. “The thought probably was, all women are beautiful if they use our product. The challenge here is the placement of the women. It starts with an African American woman who becomes a white woman. It’s not the opposite of that. It doesn’t start with a Caucasian woman becoming an African American woman,” Gerzof Richard says.
Dove pulled the ad and apologized saying: “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.”
This is the second time Dove has had the same kind of problem. “In 2011 they ran an ad that said before and after where before was the African American and the after was the Caucasian,” Gerzof Richard says.
Many people wonder about the systems Dove has in place for its advertisements. “It doesn’t sound like anybody raised their hand and said, wait a second, this could be racially insensitive,” says Gerzof Richard.
Dove brands says it is re-evaluating the processes it used for creating and approving ads.