Dove later removed the post from its Facebook page and took to social media saying, "An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused."
In an emailed statement on Sunday, Dove said the ad, a three-second video clip, “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 ... we apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused.”
An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.
— Dove (@Dove) October 7, 2017
But the damage had already been done. Outraged social media users took to microblogging site calling out the brand for its racist ad.
The Dove commercial. How ? Why ? There is no way anyone can plead ignorance. “Missed the mark” Yeah, right. Fuck Them. Fuck Them . Fuck Them — Lily (@lilyallen) October 8, 2017
Dove said "we missed the mark"... man, y'all missed the mark, get set, and go!
— laire (@laire) October 8, 2017
.@Dove "missed the mark" in @facebook post that seemed to imply that blackness is a problem that can be cured w/its soap #mediadiversity pic.twitter.com/xzrZruhS6S — Sherri Williams (@SherriWrites) October 8, 2017
— N•i•c•k•e•v•a (@tenaciousXpert) October 8, 2017
You can do better than "missed the mark." Flip + diminishing. Deepens your offense. You do good work. Have been for years. Do better here. — Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 8, 2017
I’ve been using Dove soap for about 2 weeks now and I’m so happy with the results 😍👦🏾👦🏻 pic.twitter.com/1zBtvPvHJO
— Makahl (@Makahlx) October 9, 2017
Lol did this even look right to y'all? I mean your whole team sat down and cleared this bullshit right here? How? pic.twitter.com/WzsZfpkxAr — Musimbwa (@UNcubeOthungayo) October 7, 2017
Now, after the online sh*t storm has somewhat settled, the woman who featured in the controversial advertisement has narrated her experience with the brand, their creative vision for the ad, and its misinterpretation in The Guardian.
Lola Ogunyemi, a black Nigerian woman, wrote that she agreed with the company's decision to apologize for its ad, which was seen by many as racially insensitive but also said the company should have defended its creative vision.
Let's be clear, Dove knew exactly what they were doing with their racist ad. Soap companies used to do this racist theme all the time pic.twitter.com/EzvAiExNcP— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) October 8, 2017
Ogunyemi said that she grew up in a society being aware of its opinion that the dark-skinned people, especially women, would look better if their skin were lighter.
So when Dove approached her, Ogunyemi grabbed the opportunity to feature in their new body wash campaign. "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 said.
"The experience I had with the Dove team was positive. I had an amazing time on set. All of the women in the shoot understood the concept and overarching objective," she added.
“Missed the mark”!!!??? Exactly what was the target?
— Jen🌺 (@JenRiva) October 8, 2017
Ogunyemi wrote that the first Facebook ad featuring her, a white woman, and an Asian woman removing their nude tops and changing into each other was received positively and appreciated by her family and friends. People congratulated her for representing Black Girl Magic. However, her happiness came spiralling down after she received messages and calls from her friends and family about the online outrage that ad had caused with many asking her to boycott products.
It's amazing that a big brand like Dove thought these 2 ads would be good marketing. Washing off skin color??? Wtf😳 pic.twitter.com/s2AGIpFcFj
— Tai Lopez (@tailopez) October 11, 2017
"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'."
Ogunyemi went on to say that the longer version of the ad, the TV edit, did a better job of representing the campaign's message but the ones floating on their social media accounts didn't hence it misfired. She added that the advertisers need to look beyond the surface and consider the impact their images may have, specifically when it comes to marginalized groups of women.
"While I agree with Dove’s response to unequivocally apologise for any offense caused, they could have also defended their creative vision," Ogunyemi wrote.
Ogunyemi took to her Facebook account to thank people for their love and support in the testing times.
You can read The Guardian's article here.
(With AP inputs)