“Give Dove a break” - John Ford speaks to CMO magazine
by The One Centre
19th October 2017
When Dove unveiled a recent advertisement for Dove body wash showing a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman beneath, the feedback on social media was swift and damning. But was it too harsh?
CMO recently spoke to John Ford, CEO of The One Centre, to find out.
Dove’s original TV commercial showed a diverse mix of women removing their T-shirts and turning into each other. But when cut to a shorter version, it appeared to show a black woman turning white.
“I think we need to give Dove a break here. Nothing in its 13-year history pioneering the ‘Real Beauty’ platform supports the idea that this is deliberately racist.”
“I think we need to give Dove a break here,” The One Centre’s founder and CEO, John Ford, told CMO.
“Nothing in its 13-year history pioneering the ‘Real Beauty’ message and platform supports the idea that this is deliberately or subliminally racist. I don’t even think it’s a poor choice of sequence from an idea perspective. It conveys diversity. And black comes first. The star didn’t think it was racist even after the furore broke. She was proud to be first and stood her ground.”
“Accepting that reality and having a smart, quick recovery process on hand is probably the best you can do. And Dove certainly deserve credit in that regard for putting out the fire pretty quickly.”
For Ford, the real issue is the ‘space’ social allows for explosive accusations against people, brands and organisations – even those whose whole existence has been dedicated to a cause. Within hours brands can be questioned, or worse, presented as a façade for some deeper evil or unrepentant bias.
“Dove and Unilever could do little else but apologise and put it down to a poor selection and edit,” he said.
“Yes, they could have done a 360-degree stress test on all possible risks or misinterpretations from the social teaser, but remember, to even see this through a racist lens is counter-cultural for them. Perhaps the spotlight should really be turned around onto those who claim it is so, to ask the question: What in 13 years have you, on balance, seen from this brand that deserves such a drilling?
Dove recently launched Real Beauty Productions, a platform which aims to tell real stories about beauty in a series of films, which was profiled by Brand Review earlier this year. The new platform aims to “expand the definition of beauty by putting the power of storytelling into real women’s hands”.
• This article originally appeared in CMO on 19th October, 2017 – read it here