Dove Ad Highlights Advertising’s Race Problem

May 26, 2011  |  

(Huffington Post) — As Copyranter, the blog that caused an stir on the Internet earlier this week by posting the ad, noted, it’s as though the ad is pitching a product that “turns Black Women into Latino Women into White Women.”  The blog Styleite reached a similar conclusion, writing, “Visually, it communicates that if you have dark skin before you use VisibleCare, you’ll have pale skin afterward.” Noting another salient difference between the black model and white one, Styleite added, “You’ll also be thinner.”  In a press statement, Unilever, the company that makes Dove products, said that all three women were “intended to demonstrate the ‘after’ product benefit” and added, “We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”  What’s most significant about the ad — and most embarrassing to Unilever — is that no one at the company seems to have anticipated that people would find it offensive. And that speaks to a larger issue, one that the activist and former magazine editor Michaela Angela Davis framed like this: “When it comes to advertising, it’s not enough to just have a black woman in the room. She has to be in the boardroom — she can’t just be in the changing room.”

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