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Dove Brand Is Inclusive and Values Diversity, but Are They Perfect?

Despite Dove’s success as an inclusive and body-positive brand, some of its social media marketing campaigns have missed the mark. Hailed as a champion of diversity for its #Realbeauty, #ShowUs, and #Selfesteem campaigns, the Dove brand has committed serious mistakes in some social media marketing efforts.

For example, Dove publicly apologized after running its VisibleCare Body Wash campaign. An ad depicted a Black woman as a “before” image and the “after” photo showed a White woman with “more beautiful” skin. The inference was that the woman’s white skin was more beautiful and therefore, the ideal to be attained. This error in judgment was followed by a different campaign for its Summer Glow Lotion that labeled its use was for “normal” to dark skin. This suggested that dark skin was somehow not “normal”.

Another miscalculation occurred with their #ChooseBeautiful campaign. While supposedly trying to build self-esteem, the brand asked women to judge themselves as either beautiful or average. This cynical approach was met with backlash as women felt they were being coerced into defining their physical beauty with these limited options. Dove’s most egregious error, however, was a three-second Facebook video that featured a Black woman removing her shirt to expose women with progressively lighter skin underneath. This peeling away of undesirable layers of “pigment” once again showed that the darker the skin, the more ways there were to “improve” it.

Although Dove apologized profusely for these errors in judgment, these missteps diminished some of the goodwill they had established as purveyors of beauty products that were meant for women of diverse shapes, colors, and sizes.

Dove’s core values of diversity and inclusivity were called into question because of careless social media marketing mistakes. Following these social marketing missteps, Dove has been much more cognizant of maintaining its image as a body positivity pioneer and has managed its brand more carefully to include and celebrate women of all shapes and ethnicities.

—Robert Vergara

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