On Friday, Dove released a new advertisement online promoting its skin care line of soaps and body washes. Around 24 hours later, however, it removed the media from the internet and issued an apology for “missing the mark.”
Now, people are still trying to find out what its “mark” was. Dove’s lack of clarification has led people from demanding answers to wondering if the company’s “racist” advertisement was actually an intentional message.
The ad in question was a GIF, a series of static or animated images, that portrayed a black woman wearing a similarly colored shirt taking off her shirt to reveal a white woman with a lighter shirt, who then revealed another woman with dark hair and relatively nonwhite features.
The issue spawned from the first two women — the image of a black woman turning into a white woman.
Swarms of people began slamming the company and asking how the controversial ad could have been approved by so many employees. The backlash led to the ad’s removal and, subsequently, an apology to all who were offended:
Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. 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. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.
That apology, however, has people wondering what the company actually meant by the GIF, namely because its statement left consumers confused.
According to The Washington Post, one user wrote on the now-deleted post:
What exactly were y’all going for? What was the mark … I mean anyone with eyes can see how offensive this is. Not one person on your staff objected to this? Wow. Will not be buying your products anymore.
And hundreds of people took to Twitter to echo that sentiment, citing more examples of Dove’s offensive advertisements in the past:
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) October 8, 2017
One racist ad makes you suspect.
Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 8, 2017
— Sisonke Msimang (@Sisonkemsimang) October 9, 2017
No but seriously. This is Dove’s SECOND time doing this. I got the message. Moving my coins elsewhere
— Kay (@KaylarWill) October 9, 2017
— King Fari (@FYAHBLESS718) October 9, 2017
I cannot conceive of how anyone at Dove thought this ad was acceptable. This is literally how Victorian soap was advertised by Unilever… pic.twitter.com/m9HH7BVXts
— Hannah Rose Woods (@hannahrosewoods) October 8, 2017
Dove has yet to respond further.