Dove’s Ad Apology… And Not For the First Time


Dove has been forced to apologise after an advert for a body lotion showed a black woman turning into a white woman after supposedly using said lotion. However, this is not the first time that such an incident has occurred within the Dove ad campaigns. 

The ad which was published on its US Facebook page was a three second clip, and started by showed a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman. Many have called this out for being deeply offensive.

Dove later said that they had ‘missed the mark’ with the campaign. In a tweet they apologised for the campaign, but there were many replies with people shocked that the ad even made it out in the first place.

The campaign has now been removed from Facebook, but it was shared by Naomi Blake, an American make-up artist who uses the name Naythemua. She asked ‘so what am I looking at’ in her shared post, and in response to a comment asking if people would be offended if it was a white woman turning into a black woman she said ‘Nope, we wouldn’t mind and that’s the whole point. What does America tell black people? That we are judged by the colour of our skin and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country’, also describing the advert as ‘tone deaf’.

Dove later released a further statement, saying ‘this did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened. We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologise deeply and sincerely for the offence that it has caused.’

What is particularly shocking to many people is that this is not the first advert like this that Dove has released. In 2011 they had a similar before-and-after advert showing the transition of a black woman to a white woman following the use of its body wash.

Although in the second one Dove said that all three women were intended to show the benefits of the product, people had issue with the placement of the women, that the black woman was placed under ‘before’ with the white woman underneath ‘after’.

This ad is just one in a long history of racist or racially questionable campaigns, and it seems that it’s still happening. In an Independent article, it was pointed out that the advert then went on to show the white woman changing into an Asian woman, but this defence is useless as the advert still adheres to a system where whiteness, or paleness, is shown as the ideal. Although there have been some recent revolutionary moments in the make-up and beauty industry recently, Rihanna’s new make-up line ‘Fenty Beauty’ being the most notable, there is clearly a very long way to go still.


English and History student.

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