‘Racist’ Dove Soap Campaign Sparks Debate On Greater Issue of ‘Real Beauty’

‘Racist’ Dove Soap Campaign Sparks Debate On Greater Issue of ‘Real Beauty’
May 25, 2011 Leslie Juvin-Acker

Some websites are calling this Dove advertisement featuring three women of different races racist. See the image and tell us what you think.

Some bloggers and commenters around the interwebs are labeling this Dove ad as “stupid” and “unintentionally racist.” Is it? Let’s consider the following:

Dove has been marketing and selling their products on the campaign of real beauty since 2004. According to their campaign and the research they’ve conducted, women of all ages, races, and creeds are beautiful and their products simply help accentuate their naturally beautiful features with the ultimate goal of redefining the global image of beauty.

For the past seven years, Dove has positioned itself as a brand that sells itself to and celebrates all women. They practice what they preach in their advertising with their strict photoshop policies and using real, natural women in their advertisements. How, suddenly, would Dove turn a profitable and positive campaign into a racist statement against black and latin women? Doesn’t make sense to me, but the argument still stands.

The folks at Gawker say that the ad insinuates the Dove soap is so strong that it’ll turn your skin white like the following Pears’ Soap ad, “Bye-bye black skin, hello white skin! (Scrub hard!)”

While Dove has marketed itself to be an “every woman’s” product, one must remember that Dove is owned by Unilever, an international conglomerate of brands that sells a variety of products including skin lighteners and what some might label as sexist products like Axe men’s body spray.  As a consumer, are you willing to see past this ad and agree that it’s not racist, yet continue to fund a greater company that encourages people to change their skin color and subjugate women with its other products?

The internet debate raises the greater issue of using ethical products from companies that represent their core values in not only individual product marketing, but creating an even global brand image throughout all sub brands. My husband is a product manager and while he works on a more harder edge product, he always notes that the product must fit within the overall company’s brand image because they bear the same name.

The problem is, however, with these big parent companies, most people don’t realize the connection small brands have with each other because their names are different with only a small logo on the back marking the parent company. Consider how much time you actually spend reading labels at the grocery store. I’m drawing a blank, too.

I personally don’t find the advertisement offensive, but it does make me think about Dove’s campaign for beauty while other brands within the same umbrella continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes and fantasy images of beauty and success. Is investing your money into this product really going to help change negative perceptions of beauty not just in your neighborhood, but across the globe? What do you think?


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1 Comment

  1. Tristan 6 years ago

    It’s great that she lost weight too!

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