Dove has apologized for some Facebook-posted advertising imagery many found racially insensitive.
The three-second video, posted and subsequently taken down Saturday, showed a black woman removing a brown T-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath, suggesting Dove Body Wash had cleansed her.
But the image wasn't removed before criticism bubbled up on Facebook and Twitter about the ad, and some past Dove advertisements treading similar territory.
Okay, Dove...— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) October 8, 2017
One racist ad makes you suspect.
Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty. pic.twitter.com/hAwNCN84h2
"Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity," the company said on Facebook. "In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused."
In a separate statement sent to USA TODAY, Dove said: "This did not represent the diversity of real beauty which is something Dove is passionate about and is core to our beliefs, and it should not have happened. We have removed the post and have not published any other related content. We apologize deeply and sincerely for the offense that it has caused and do not condone any activity or imagery that insults any audience."
Among those criticizing the company was actress and activist Gabrielle Union, who said on Twitter she "would like to know who exactly had a seat at the table making this decision."
I really would like to know who exactly had a seat at the table making this decision. https://t.co/rPRxB61Exl— Gabrielle Union (@itsgabrielleu) October 8, 2017
Several of those critical of Dove online called for a product boycott, resulting in a an active #BoycottDove hashtag on Twitter.
Several on Twitter recalled other instances when the brand was racially insensitive. CNN political commentator Keith Boykin included a picture of another Dove liquid soap advertisement with women of color and a white woman below an "After" using the product. Boykin also posted a picture of Dove Summer Glow moisturizing lotion meant for "normal to dark skin," according to the bottle.
Boykin tweeted," Why is this racist @Dove product still being sold?"
Historian Francis Soyer, who teaches at the U.K.'s University of Southampton, offered the insight that many soap ads in the past had been racially insensitive.
LT: Context for the Dove ad scandal: there is a long history of racist ads used to sell soap in the West. 🤢🙁 pic.twitter.com/daC7vgnIPM— Francois Soyer (@FJSoyer) October 8, 2017
Back in May, Dove also was targeted for criticism after its U.K. division posted a video online promoting six limited-edition bottle shapes meant to evoke the different body shapes of women.
These mishaps run counter to Dove's Real Beauty campaign, begun in 2004, and espouses "beauty is for everyone and therefore features real women of different ages, sizes, ethnicities, hair color, type or style."
Scandal and Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes teamed with Dove to create Real Beauty Productions in March and has produced three short videos on real women consumers. "For too long the definition of beauty has been too narrow and let’s face it, unreal,” Rhimes says in a video on the Dove site.