Dove Visible Care Ad : Unconscious bias?

All of my readers know my that my interests spread from sea to sea. In addition to teaching, running the website, and being a full time doctoral student…. I have an internship with American Institute for Managing Diversity. I received this to post on our Facebook page and I thought this was an interesting topic. Please share your thoughts in response to the Dove Visible Care advertisement.

Dear Friends,
Sometimes I see something I simply cannot allow to “pass” and the attached advertisement sent to me by my friend Fran is one of those things. While I doubt this was intentional (or even conscious), I find the implicit racism of perfection going from dark to light skin highly offensive. I have written [the following] to Dove and would invite you to do the same if you are so inclined.
“I was recently sent a copy of a Dove Visible care ad from a magazine with before and after pictures: the before is a black woman with a wall-sized picture of cracked skin behind her; the after is a white woman with a wall-sized screen of clear skin behind her. While I suspect there was no ill-intent, the subtle message that perfect (white) skin is the ultimate goal of using Dove offends me. This message is inconsistent with your stated goals regarding self esteem. I will not be using Dove until I know you have recalled this ad and will ask my friends to take the same action. Thank you for any information you can provide me about the development, distribution, and recall of this ad.”

What do you think? Is this a form of subtle racism?

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About TheCourtneyLuv

A lover of life!
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20 Responses to Dove Visible Care Ad : Unconscious bias?

  1. I-) says:

    they also get lighter (i.e., thinner) from l to r…


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  3. Amy Alkon says:

    I think it’s a sign of not-so-subtle stupidity and dunderheadedness on the part of the ad agency and the 42,000 committee members any ad has to go through these days.

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  5. Paulina says:

    Hmmmm…. One ad just can’t please all the masses, but it would help if the masses had normal brain functions and some common sense (and possibly an education beyond the minimum required…. but one could only dream) I see an ad that went out of the way to please all the racial nutcases by posing 3 women of different colors and sizes. The background (for anyone with common sense) is supposed to show the effects of the cream on ALL 3 women. If you’re looking at it correctly, the “after” photo actually shows a slightly darker tint, with skin “smooth” and not cracked, the very intention of the cream. NOWHERE does the ad show an effect of “whitening”. The placement of the women has nothing to do with the desired effects of the cream, which still is somewhat “darker” in the “after” shot, simply showing a smoother skin tone. But of course, someone, somewhere, lacking the eyeful detail (and some brain cells) had to blow something so simple out of proportion. People really need a life, and an education!

    • Jon Patterson says:

      The bottom line in this advertisement is that it’s extremely easy to potentially misconstrue the meaning. Whether someone intentionally wanted to infuse the ad with a racist undertone is one thing. Equally as important is the carelessness of the advertising agency AND Dove for letting this get through. While there may be no intention of racism here you have to be conscious of any advertising you put out. I’ve worked in big and small ad agencies for many years so I feel qualified in saying this ad is pathetic in execution.

    • Ashley says:

      100% Agree

  6. James May says:

    You’re morons for taking left to right, right to left and seeing it as some kind of progression from like monkey-like neanderthals to higher order beings living in air conditioned domes. It’s nothing and conspicuously so – much like what resides between the ears of anyone who can ferret out the least amount of racism here. If it was all white women they’d be b******* about that too. You can’t win with the eternally offended who think Tarzan was a KKK member. (edited…we do not curse on our site).

  7. Michelle Godwin says:

    I am extremely frustrated because of the idiots that keep perpetuating this twaddle and the original Facebook poster is even more of an idiot. She admits to know good and well that it was not their intent to insinuate anything or to insult anyone. Some have said that it was stupid art direction, but at no time did the original poster consider the fact that if we are all the same, the “order” of the women would never matter. Take the skin color out of the picture – just because someone “perceives” stupidity or “perceives” racism does not make it actually exist (especially in this instance). So many people want to be the “great whistle blower” and “save mankind” that they look for “proof” that does not exist (and that can be “proof” of stupidity, or “proof” of racism, or “proof” that SOMEONE SOMEWHERE has been wronged). It is so sad that logic and reason are no longer part of American culture and that most can’t see a situation from all angles and make an intelligent opinion. I guess most are glad that they have such worthy commentators as these to advise them in their perceived realities.

  8. lujlp says:

    I have it on good authority that the head designer of this ad was Chineese. As we all know the chineese read from right to left, so this is indeed racism, against white people

  9. Sally Rose says:

    While I see what the Poster is trying to say, I think that the fact that there are 3 women all of differing races and sizes is awesome.
    While if you really want to construe that there is “unintentional” racism here, then you will see it. I am just grateful there are women of differing race and size but Dove is really trying to get that message out there. Women of every size shape and race are BEAUTIFUL. And that is the real point here not that one is better than any other.
    Just my two cents and hopefully people will see what was actually intended verses what MIGHT BE ACCIDENTALLY implied.

  10. hillplus says:

    YAWN…..much ado about nothing. Didn’t see it until it was pointed out. Stop looking for things that are NOT there. 😉

    The skin color is the same before and after, just a lot smoother thanks to the miracle of ‘Dove Visible Care’ 😛

  11. An Adman says:

    Are you kidding or what. Do you belive a international brand such as Dove, would be so stupid as to offend their millions of loyal black customers? Do you have any idea of
    the millions of dollars this ad campaign cost. I think those who are offended by it are in real need of a hobby.

  12. Kathy says:

    It is not about skin color. As the obesity media frenzy grows, black women are shown more than white women as overweight. Why couldn’t the white lady be fat?

    It’s a new up and coming racism. check out the state of GA. billboards and tv ads

  13. Claire Smith says:

    After watch years and years of advertising, I come with the conclusion that these people are not fully aware of what their doing. But somehow their “racist side” come up.

    I guess they don’t check their work before it goes public.

    And by the way, if you want a racist advertising, check this Nivea’s ad:


  14. Paige Lee says:

    Dove should be careful in posting ads. There are many loyal customers out there who loves using this product. And that includes me..There’s just something wrong with the ad..I’m no ad expert but sometimes these ad agencies should be aware of what other’s may feel or think before they spread the ads..It could ruin the reputation of the company

  15. Will says:

    I fail to see this as racist in any way. With enough imagination you could find something to complain about from any advertisement.  Dove obviously wants everyone to use their product and would go to great lengths not to offend.

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  17. Ryan says:

    It’s just amazing that this ad slipped through all of what I imagine to be exhaustive marketing checkpoints. I believe it is harmless, but it’s fairly obvious that some could take it the wrong way, and I can’t imagine a soap company would want to alienate it’s users in any way.

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