New Dove Ad Misses Diversity Input

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EMH Global, being an agency that is truly diverse from inside out, we are known for our stand on the importance for the advertising industry to see embracing diversity as a must (no longer an option) if they want to uncover potential problems and come up with creative solutions that will be acceptable by today’s diverse but choosy consumer.

It is interesting how we have read in the news this past month events that have pushed the need for talk on diversity to hit the headlines.  One news story that hit the headlines in October was the new advert released by Dove which caused an outrage across the globe as it features a black woman taking off a nude coloured t-shirt and in the process becoming a white woman.  This ad sparked a storm of backlash against Dove forcing them to issue an apology and withdrawing the campaign from Facebook. Dove in a statement said “An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused”. This unfortunate action by the creative team at Dove, has caused many people to now refer to the Ad and Dove as racist.

In defence of Dove, and her career Lola Ogunyemi, the black model who featured in this ad was forced to speak out about her displeasure of being branded as a victim of racism and about whether Dove produced a racist ad or not. In her defence she strongly affirmed her position not to want to work with a product that did not offer equal opportunity to people from diverse backgrounds.  Lola Ogunyemi said ‘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”.’

The fundamental flaw with this Ad is the lack of recognition of diversity. Even though the ad itself features a very diverse cast which is great. In their attempt to show case diversity further the darker skinned woman was the front woman for multiple versions of this ad which again was a clever idea, unfortunately the creators probably did not consider how audience from diverse communities view themselves in campaigns such as this.

As we say at EMH; unless the team behind a campaign itself is truly diverse, it will be impossible to have a complete opinion on how a campaign will be received by the diverse target audience. The Dove Ad is a typical case study on the importance of a diverse agency team.

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