Dove Messes Up…Again

In October 2017, Dove posted an ad on Facebook in efforts to promote their body wash. The three-second video featured three young women of different ethnicities, each pulling off their shirts to reveal the next woman. Controversy sparked from the ad due to a young black woman pulling off her dark brown shirt to reveal a young white woman in a nude shirt.

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Social media users were immediately upset, claiming that the ad was “racist” and that it portrayed black women as less clean than white women. Dove removed the ad and posted a message on their Facebook and Twitter pages stating that, “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused.”

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A few days later, Dove posted on their social media to once again apologize and to explain that the video was intended to “convey that Dove body wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity.”

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Nigerian model Lola Ogunyemi, who was the black woman in the ad, defended the ad, telling The Guardian, “Having the opportunity to represent my dark-skinned sisters in a global beauty brand felt like the perfect way for me to remind the world that we are here, we are beautiful, and more importantly, we are valued.” She also added that “the narrative has been written without giving the consumers context on which to base an informed opinion.”

Following the release of the ad, many people mentioned how the racist advertising of soap has been done several times before and how this was just a “continuation” of the past. Not only that, but Dove had previously posted another controversial ad in 2011 that was also considered racist. Would this ad be deemed racist if people understood the context of it? Should Dove had explained the ad before running it, or should they have not run it at all?


Did Adidas run into a PR mistake?

Following the 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 260 others, Adidas sent out a mass marketing email four years later in April 2017 congratulating customers who completed the race with the subject line: “Congrats, you survived the Boston Marathon.”

The company was the sponsor for the annual race

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The email from Adidas drew immediate backlash on all social media platforms, especially Twitter with users highlighting the “tone-deaf” phrasing. Users called out Adidas for using a tragedy for publicity and monetary gain. Frustrated users also questioned how Adidas did not realize the connotations of the message after the tragic event in 2013. Adidas’ email was viewed as “insensitive in the extreme.”

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Following the backlash on social media, the athletic company issued an apology on their Twitter account. The company apologized for its mistake of not thoroughly thinking through the email before sending it out.

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What is the line between staying current and exploiting public events?

Did Adidas exploit a tragic event for marketing their brand? Adidas issued an apology after, but how did no one in the company spot the “insensitive” before the email was sent? Should Adidas have sent out anything regarding the Boston Marathon? If so, how could they have done it in a better way?