Ciaran Watkins – When Advertising Goes Wrong: Part Ten

Posted on May 26, 2011 by


It always amuses me when the internet gets up in arms over something that’s really not at all what they’re trying to make it out to be; Shit, it’s the Rapture coming! Oh wait, no it’s not, someone just did a wee trump instead. Bugger! Ryan Giggs is noshing some woman off! Oh wait, I don’t care, and nor should you. Of course, I jest. The end of the world is absolutely horrible and every one should be aware of the impending doom and gloom it will bring. That rapture sounded pretty serious too FNAR.

This time it’s an advert for Dove moisturiser. See if you can spot what’s wrong with it.

If you’re still trying to work out what’s apparently ‘wrong’ with that advert, then I’ll give you a hint; it’s totally not the fact that they’re hanging a large amount of skin behind the three smiling beauties. It’s because it’s a load of old racist. That’s right, Dove shower gel is for racists, and racists only. How is it racist you ask? Well let’s look at the facts;

“Visibly more beautiful skin from the most unexpected places – your shower” – This just insinuates that the Dove body wash makes your skin noticeably better looking, and it’s a shower gel rather than an anti-ageing cream. Nothing racist here?

The large chunks of what I hope are canvases behind the three smiling ladies – These just display a ‘before’ and ‘after’ effect again bolstering claims that this shower gel works wonders on rejuvenating the youthfulness of your skin!

Three beautiful ladies all standing in a row looking happy with themselves – Well they’ve all obviously used the product and are happy with the after effects! Again, nothing racist here. If anything it’s the opposite of racist as the multi cultural backgrounds of the ladies used can represent the fact that all skin colours, tones and ages can use the product and see results!

So far, I’m failing to see anything racist about this advert. Hang on. Wait a second. Let’s look at the image again, in particular the order of said women; Their skin colour goes from black, to brown, to white, so that’s darkest, to lightest. And this shower gel apparently visibly ‘improves’ the look of your skin. The black lady is standing under ‘before’, while the white lady is standing under ‘after’. My god.

Quick, someone tell the Daily Mail! This product turns black people white, and what’s more, Dove are telling us all that white skin is a ‘visible improvement’ on black skin. Those racist bastards. Martin Luther King didn’t have this dream, this is more like one of his nightmares! Oh wait, we’re not insane, that’s not happening, people aren’t that stupid, and this is just a bit of an art-direction mishap. If only. Unfortunately, it’s true. People nationwide are complaining about this press ad for the above reasons. Apparently in some people’s eyes, Dove really do think that white people have ‘visibly more attractive’ skin than black people, and this ad is them trying to prove that. Idiots, the lot of them.

I’m not a stranger to art-direction snaffoos as you can know from the time I likened the kleenex witch to a terrorist. Funnily enough, this actually came up in an interview for a copywriter job I had last week, and I still to this day cannot work out why I brought it up. Of course I’ll be surprised if I hear anything back, but for some inane reason I thought it was a brilliant topic to talk about.

Any way, art direction piss-ups happen from time to time, and while I wrote what I thought about the silly witch and her penchant for suicide bombing missions, I assumed people would take what I wrote with a mountain of bloody salt. Surely the people who think this ad is racist should be thinking the same thing; “Are Dove really saying this? No. Of course not. I’m not a fucking idiot, and it’s clear to see that it’s just some poor young art-director who’ll be out of a job sooner rather than later. Where’s that bucket? I need to put out my burning torch, and someone get me the key to the shed so I can put away my pitchfork”. I wish that was the way the world worked, but there will be conspiracy theories some where about how Adolf Hitler used to use Dove shower gel back in Germany, probably written about by the Daily Mail, and again, some poor sods will believe it.

To make the world a better place, and one that’s less completely and utterly racist, I’ve done Dove a favour and fixed their advert for them. It took me two seconds in paint. For a better version it’s going to cost around £16,000 a year with four weeks holiday. It’ll be worth it though, and as my C.V says, I can make a damn good cup of tea.

Work of art.

Read more over at Whatever’s In There, Falls Out Here.

Posted in: Ciaran Watkins