Finger pointing, crowd gathering, rocks held in sweaty hands. This is what the company, Dove, recently experienced when it ran a 3 second GIF on Facebook promoting its product with a woman of color removing her brown shirt, transposing as she did, into a white woman. Dove was left running for its commercial life, once again, scrambling to pick up the pieces of a creative commercial, gone horribly wrong.
It wasn’t that long ago we wrote a piece about Dove in hyper mode trying to correct its image from another faux pas when it announced various shapes of bottles (pear, round, curvy) which were to depict the various shapes of women. They found out quickly women do not want to buy a pear-shaped bottle because they are pear shaped. In fact, women don’t like to be ‘defined’ as a certain shape or size. There is beauty in everything, and every size and every shape. Hence, it’s surprising that Dove has made another marketing mistake so soon. But is it surprising?
Dove has made giant leaps to embrace women of all shapes, all ethnic backgrounds, and to point out not all women are the size of a toothpick and beauty should not be defined as such. Dove, owned by Unilever, a Dutch-British transnational consumer goods company co., headquartered in Rotterdam, Netherlands and London, United Kingdom, has been making strides in the marketing world by highlighting women of different ethnicity, as well as different shapes and sizes. One commercial that hit the mark begins with the words: “Why do we search the universe for one type of beauty?” The commercial follows with a montage of various women on screen. The women in the commercial are of different color, size, and age, but all delightfully happy and smiling. The only thing that stands out, in this writer’s mind, is how they do not show anyone who is a natural blonde. In fact, the commercial features numerous women but on review I could only find 2 blondes and both had dark roots. I’m surprised the blonde women of the world didn’t rally together to cry out, but in society blondes are supposed to be the ones ‘having more fun’, or so the saying goes.
It wouldn’t take long for anyone in this world to see how we all live under assumptions and biases that do not accurately depict us. We like to say we are all for one and one for all, but society hangs on to its old contradictions and racial slurs. Dove responded immediately to the backlash over this last advertising mistake by immediately pulling the GIF and apologizing, writing on Facebook: “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.”
In life, if we own up to our mistakes, most will forgive and allow us to move forward. Dove has and is still striving to push women forward in their ad campaigns by showing there is beauty in all shapes and all colors, in diversity. It’s not surprising there will be mistakes made along the way in their determination. To assume no further mistakes will occur is sophomoric and ludicrous. Waves will be made when change is coming. So, power on Dove, power on.
And apologies to all sophomores who took offence to my comment of being sophomoric. I apologize, can we please move forward?
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-Haley Corkery │ Public Relations Specialist