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Why Do Companies Like Dove Keep Missing the Mark on Culturally Insensitive Ads?

December 25, 2017 in Blogs

By Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez, AlterNet

The lack of diversity in the advertising industry makes responsible content difficult to achieve.

In early October, when Dove released an ad that was at the very least culturally insensitive, outrage from white people and people of color alike ensued. The ad showed women from a variety of ethnicities changing clothes to represent getting clean with Dove body wash. But the depiction of a black model removing her shirt seemingly equated becoming clean with becoming white. It’s unclear what Dove hoped to accomplish with this ad, but the flood of responses led to a public apology and removal of the ad.

This is not the first time in recent history that Dove, along with other large-scale agencies for beauty products and other commodities, has released ads that insulted or downright ostracized black women or communities of color.

A few months ago, Shea Moisture, which provides products tailored to black skin and hair, released an ad that caused backlash. The advertisement, which featured all-white or very light-skinned, loose-haired black women, alienated the company's target customers. Shea Moisture gained its widespread success by providing affordable products for black women who have coarse and kinky natural hair. It didn’t take long for the criticism and product boycotts to trigger an apology from Shea Moisture, but for many, their loyalty to the brand was severed.

Earlier in 2017, Pepsi made a mockery of police and community relations after releasing an ad that made agreement between the opposed views seem as simple as sharing a soda. The oversimplification of the Black Lives Matter movement left many infuriated. 

And more recently, in late October, Santher, a Brazilian toilet paper company took the racist-ad cake for using the slogan “Black is Beautiful,” a phrase that became popular in the late ’60s to early ’70s to celebrate black empowerment in the face of European beauty standards. But Santher used the phrase to market the debut of its new black toilet paper. For many, this message literally represented wiping one’s backside with black empowerment and beauty.

2017 isn’t the first year we have …read more


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