The Dove brand found themselves at the centre of a webstorm this week with an ad for their Dove Visible Care. Blogger Courteny Luv posted up a something she had received on Facebook:
“I was recently sent a copy of a Dove Visible care ad from a magazine with before and after pictures: the before is a black woman with a wall-sized picture of cracked skin behind her; the after is a white woman with a wall-sized screen of clear skin behind her. While I suspect there was no ill-intent, the subtle message that perfect (white) skin is the ultimate goal of using Dove offends me. This message is inconsistent with your stated goals regarding self esteem. I will not be using Dove until I know you have recalled this ad and will ask my friends to take the same action. Thank you for any information you can provide me about the development, distribution, and recall of this ad.”
The comments on Copyranter who created the original post are divided between those who thought the was bad art direction to others who found the whole debate ridiculous, while Saki Kapo on the Huffington Post wrote a fascinating follow-up piece on the racial make-up of the mainstream advertising business. Gawker contacted Unilever for comment and they replied via Edeleman, their PR firm, “All three women are intended to demonstrate the “after” product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.” The debate about how offensive it is continues, but what it highlights is the care needed in the relationship between word and image.