Dove Soap in the Mouth: How Social Media Outrage Forced Ad Changes in One Day

The past week has been weird for Dove. It has been equally weird for the thousands of social media users across a variety of platforms (and of a variety of ethnicities) who were exposed to their recent ad campaign. The ad features a series of women, and many saw a stark message—many claim that the ad perpetuated racism. You can see the Facebook Ad campaign here

From Questlove to beauty bloggers, screenshots were flying, posts were being drafted and Dove was thrown into quite a negative spotlight. Dove responded to the outcry by, not only taking the ad down in less than 24 hours, but also setting a press statement acknowledging their lack of foresight. Here’s what they had to say:

 “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,” the company said in a statement Sunday. “We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience.”

The final piece of information in this saga comes from the British-Nigerian model featured in the ad. Lola Ogunyemi who responded to the controversy in a personally-penned essay which included this statement:

“If I had even the slightest inclination that I would be portrayed as inferior, or as the “before” in a before and after shot, I would have been the first to say an emphatic “no”,” she writes. “I am not just some silent victim of a mistaken beauty campaign.”

One thing is for sure—consumers will be watching Dove closely for some time following this antic. And let’s hope they make wiser choices and don’t leave final decisions to the late night, fast-food fueled brainstorm they had before they green-lit this idea. How many people had to give the go-ahead before this was released? It goes to show you, that large corporations with infinite spending power and multiple team members can still foil their brand.

Let’s focus on the positive here.

Social media outrage made a huge brand change in a matter of hours. That’s an incredibly powerful message to take away from all of this. And brands should take note. Social media campaigns are expositions of your brand and who you are—think carefully about them. You must see things from all angles because your wide-range of customers will definitely be doing just that. Regardless of your size as a brand and business, do not forget that the small pictures make up the big picture.

More questions than answers right now in regards to how to avoid a fiasco like this? Get in contact with us at Visual Caffeine.

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