99 & 44/100ths % Pure Racism

D’oh! I’m an idiot. IVORY soap advertised itself as 99 & 44/100ths% pure, not Dove. My idiocy now set aside, I leave the OP alone so you can at least get the substance about the current advertising campaign, which is correctly attributed to Dove.

Dove, having famously marketed their soap as “99 & 44/100ths % pure,” now has a new ad campaign – or had. That’s right, it’s already over and in all likelihood you hadn’t even yet seen it.

The Kansas City Star appears to have been the first to call it out, and three hours after this article detailing the contemptible ad, the Star had another article up, this one, that highlighted a tepid apology from the company that received less attention in the initial article.

The best news out of all this is that the company took down the ad quite quickly, and also that

None of Dove’s statements on the Facebook advertisement this week described what the company’s intent had been in making the ad.

That’s actually a step up from what we normally see, regardless of how bad the initial ad might have been.

The substance of the racism critique is that a Black woman with a dark shirt is seen pulling that shirt up and off over her head. Through the wonders of green screen tech, this reveals a white woman with a lighter shirt underneath. The apparent implication being that Dove can make you lighter/whiter (and that this is desirable).

That message was undercut by the fact that the white woman then removes her shirt to reveal another woman not depicted in the screen-captures that I saw, but identified in writing as “a woman of color” wearing a shirt of a shade in between that of the Black woman’s dark shirt and the white woman’s ecru shirt. However, not many people were willing to give Dove the benefit of the doubt as the product that they were advertising listed it as useful for

normal to dark skin

Yeah, I think just dropping the ad was a good idea. Get that bottle changed as soon as possible, though, eh?

As a post-script, I feel compelled to note that while it’s hard to praise the marketing of a product as marketing itself is so deeply entwined with consumerism and problematic attitudes towards capitalism and consumption, as far as marketing campaigns go, I actually liked the many-different-shapes ad campaign they ran where their products were not just depicted but actually sold in what they called “Real Beauty Bottles” that contained the same amount of soap or lotion, but differed radically in profile. Some bottles were tall and entirely flat. Some tall but slightly curved in at the middle, others were short and shaped like an upside-down apple, with several other shapes included as well. It didn’t work out well, with one criticism saying the bottles made some people feel judged, but I thought that one came from a good place.