Dove’s Literal Whitewashing

yellow soap and cleaning sponge Dove ad

In 2017, Dove ran an flash ad through Facebook that erupted in controversy The commercial was a short 3-second GIF of women pulling their shirt off to reveal another woman of a different race underneath. Weird, right?

They wanted to communicate the skin care should be for all types of women. The viewers, however, saw an African woman miraculously changing into a Caucasian – as if the soap “cured” her condition.

Honestly, I thought that whole ordeal was stupid, but it’s easy to understand why people would jump to conclusion from a short weirdly vague ad. It was too brief in content to even understand the clothes represented different skin tones. We typically need time to process these things.

How am I supposed to interpret a positive message of diversity from 3-seconds of women changing clothes? It showed nothing about specifically soap.

The clip was also a weird sexy tease. If a gal pulls her shirt off, I am expecting to see something underneath.

The poor script and lack of context made the Dove ad a failure.

Business writing isn’t for your edification. It’s for the audience. If something doesn’t use words at all, it sure better use very simple, well-known symbolism. Pulling your top off? That’s a weird one.

The fact is – different races of people have different skin needs. This ad didn’t show how we are all uniquely blessed with differences that make us who we are.

You should love your skin too. Be confident. You rock.

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About the Author: Jonathan Crow

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