Dove Apologizes for Posting Racially Insensitive Ad on Facebook That ‘Missed the Mark’

Immediate backlash sparked the brand to pull the post

Dove apologized and pulled a Facebook ad over the weekend that was deemed racially insensitive. Photo: Bloomberg/Getty Images
Headshot of Katie Richards

Dove found itself in hot water this weekend after it posted a racially insensitive post to its Facebook page. The brand has since pulled the post from Facebook and issued an apology.

The ad depicted a black woman posing next to a bottle of one of Dove’s body products. In the post, which has since been deleted, the black woman is wearing a skin tone-colored t-shirt. She then proceeds to remove the shirt and turns into a white woman. A third image that spread on social media shows another scene where she takes off the shirt to reveal a woman of Asian descent.

Dove’s ad immediately drew criticism on Twitter and the brand swiftly removed it on Saturday. “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully,” the brand noted in a tweet. “We deeply regret the offense it caused.” On Facebook, the brand noted it would use the feedback from consumers on social media to “guide us in the future.”

While the Unilever-owned brand acted quickly to remove the post over the weekend and sent out apologies via Twitter and Facebook, consumers and activists were not having it.

Dove frequently tackles social norms in campaigns featuring real women, but some social media users were quick to point out that this is not the first time that Dove has been under fire for depicting diversity in its ads. In 2011, the brand ran a campaign promoting body wash that showed three women of different skin colors standing in a row. Copy reading “before” appeared over the woman with darker skin color while the word “after” appeared over the lighter-skinned woman. The brand said at the time that all three women were meant to represent the “after.”

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.