Dove’s Not-So-Clean Ad Campaign

Nothing illustrates the power of the blogosphere more perfectly than a textbook PR dilemma. The Dove soap brand recently came under fire for a national ad that many claim to be racist. Before I delve into the crisis, take a glance at the ad for yourself:


See anything questionable? The ad is for Dove’s VisibleCare Body Wash, which claims to improve the overall appearance of women’s skin in just one week. Dove’s media headache began when the blog ‘Copyranter’ posted the following about the ad: “Dove body wash turns Black women into Latino women into White women.” The post explained how the ad shows black skin as bad and white skin as good, by having the skin color get progressively lighter by the ‘after’ or better side of the ad.

This dilemma brings up the question of how PR professionals should react to negative blog or social media posts. Fight back and risk saying something offensive or let the people talk and spread rumors? In this case, Dove kept a low profile by simply replying once to the original blog saying,

“…The ad is intended to illustrate the benefits of using Dove VisibleCare Body Wash, by making skin visibly more beautiful in just one week. All three women are intended to demonstrate the ‘after’ product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”

Little action on Twitter has been taken by Dove, and their Facebook page has been managed by one Dove commenter to defend the company. In my opinion, Dove handled this situation very responsibly, by replying to the original blog that started the chatter and to no one else. The new world of blogging creates these new types of problems for PR professionals everyday, and crises such as these are prime examples of how to deal with them.

Personally, the ad should have never seen the light of day, because when looked at closely it does give off a negative image towards darker skinned women. Looking at the ad again, it would make much more sense to have all of the women standing under the ‘after’ sign, showing that women of all skin colors are beautiful.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Mackenzie Krott.

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