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Face of Dove’s Controversial Commercial Speaks Out

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

Dove recently came out with a commercial that was meant to celebrate diversity and it seems to have failed at its task. The company has been embracing and promoting self-love in its ad campaigns and have done so successfully. In their apology, Dove said they “missed the mark” on this one, to put it lightly. The model in this now infamous commercial spoke out amongst all the controversy surrounding her part in this. Lola Ogunyemi, a Nigerian-English model, wrote an explanation for The Guardian where she discussed her role in the commercial and how she’s being victimized for it. In the article, Ogunyemi explains that at no point did she ever think that she’d, “become the unwitting poster child for racist advertising”. She clarifies that the commercial wasn’t showing her as the “before” image, but as a member of a cast that included women of all backgrounds and skin colors.

Ogunyemi summarizes her experience on set and describes how inclusive of an environment it was for them to be in. She says that none of them ever felt like the message Dove was trying to get across was a racist one. Ogunyemi states that she would never have been a part of it if she thought they’d been portraying her in a negative manner. She believes that the TV version of the commercial gives you the context needed to grasp what Dove was initially trying to achieve. Ogunyemi wanted to, “represent Black Girl Magic”. Ogunyemi and her family truly believed that she was exemplifying that when they saw her commercial for the first time. She goes on to say how she sees how people could have misunderstood what the commercial was attempting to say and that could be because of Dove’s prior mistakes concerning the same problems.

Courtesy: NBC News

This isn’t the first time that Dove’s been in hot water for a commercial they depicting anti-black messages. In 2011, Dove released a different commercial with a racist undertone and have only just recovered years later with the body positive campaigns they’ve been running. People have compared Dove’s commercial to old advertisements showing black people getting washed and turning into white people, insinuating that blackness is inherently dirty and needs to be cleaned.

People can’t help but feel like their team should’ve been aware of how this could’ve looked especially since they’ve run into this problem before. Dove has apologized, but many don’t feel like this was enough. Director, Ava DuVernay, tweeted her thoughts at Dove, saying that their response was not enough for how large of a mistake this was. She called their apology “flip+diminishing.” There have been boycotts against Dove and this P.R. misstep will cost them years’ worth of recovering their image. Hopefully, this will encourage the brand to do better because many feel that as big of a company as they are, there’s no way this should’ve been green-lighted. Maybe quadruple checking how their advertisements are coming off will prevent them from producing any more content that could even be slightly interpreted as racist.

Nicole Knight is a Junior at Florida State University. She's majoring in Editing, Writing and Media with a minor in Communications. 
Her Campus at Florida State University.