The advertisement decried by some users as racist was published on Dove’s Facebook page. The ad was a three-second GIF showing a black woman taking off her brown shirt to reveal a white woman who then took off her lighter-colored shirt to reveal the next woman in a darker shirt.
The ad drew the attention of make-up artist Naythemua who wrote a post that has been reposted over 10,000 times.
"What does America tell black people… that we are judged by the color of our skin and that includes what is considered beautiful in this country," she wrote in a comment.
The ad sparked a backlash on social media, with many users wondering how the company could have allowed such a controversial ad to be published.
Got a new startup idea: You send us your ad, we'll tell you if it's racist before you run it. Think we have our first customer in Dove.— Vasu Kulkarni (@Vasu) 9 октября 2017 г.
Some also noted that Dove uses the description "for normal to dark skin" for some of its products.
Others pointed out that soap advertising has a long history of race-related overtones.
the racist dove ad is a continuation of a long history of racist soap advertising pic.twitter.com/nO7iDT7dxH— /kaw·reɪdʒ/ (@kawrage) 8 октября 2017 г.
The company apologized on Twitter, saying that its advertisement "missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully."
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) 7 октября 2017 г.
Dove spokesperson Marissa Solan explained Sunday that the ad was "intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong and, as a result, offended many people."
Many on social media, however, did not seem to be impressed by the company’s apology.
Your ad didn’t miss the mark, say it with me now…it is RACIST!!@Dove— Bonnie Mbuli (@BonnieMbuli) 8 октября 2017 г.
NO, Dove. take a seat and *explain yourself.* This doesn't miss the mark, it makes a CLEAR statement that black women are dirty.— Patricia (@Trisha_Bateman) 8 октября 2017 г.
this is embarrassing and you should be ashamed, i'm not buying dove again thank you 🙅🏼— ℬ (@biljana_x) 9 октября 2017 г.
For Dove, the problem is that this is not the company’s first misstep. It was engaged in a similar scandal several years ago. In 2011, Dove was criticized for another ad, showing three women of different skin colors standing in front of "before" and "after" images. At the time, the company also said its purpose was not to offend anyone and that the ad was not racist.