In a Facebook ad for Dove body wash, a black woman removes her brown shirt and — voilà! Underneath is a white woman in a light shirt.
The ad, a three-second GIF, sparked an outcry, with many social media users wondering how it could have made it through multiple layers of review.
On Saturday, Dove - owned by Unilever - apologised, writing on Facebook: “Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity. 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.”
Marissa Solan, a spokeswoman for Dove, said on Sunday that the GIF “was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong and, as a result, offended many people".
She added that Dove had removed the post and was “re-evaluating our internal processes for creating and reviewing content.”
Dove’s ad was not an isolated case by one company, but the latest in a long line of tone-deaf ads by many companies.
Here are a few local and international examples from the past.
Earlier this year South African insurance company Outsurance came under fire for their Father's Day tribute.
The insurance company posted a video on Twitter on Father's Day in honour of all the "amazing dads out there".
In the video, fathers are seen sharing happy moments with their children and having silly moments.
Instead of stirring emotions, the advert caused an outrage, with users blasting it for its lack of diversity and failing to represent South African fathers of all races.
SA tweeps sarcastically congratulated the company for turning what should have been a celebration of all fathers, into a celebration of white fathers.
A 2007 ad for Intel’s new processor showed a white man surrounded by six black sprinters bent over in starting poses. “Multiply computing performance and maximize the power of your employees,” the text read.
Intel said its intent “was to convey the performance capabilities of our processors through the visual metaphor of a sprinter,” but acknowledged, “Unfortunately, our execution did not deliver our intended message and in fact proved to be insensitive and insulting.”
In 2011, Dove was criticised for another ad: this one showing three women standing side by side, each with lighter skin than the woman next to her. Behind them were signs reading “before” and “after”; the “before” sign, positioned behind an African-American woman, showed cracked skin, while the “after” sign, behind a white woman, showed smooth skin.
“Visibly more beautiful skin,” the ad read.
Edelman, the public relations company representing Dove, said in a statement to Gawker: “All three women are intended to demonstrate the ‘after’ product benefit. We do not condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience.”
Popchips drew fire in 2012 for an ad in which Ashton Kutcher played several characters — including a Bollywood producer named Raj, complete with brownface and an Indian accent.
Popchips initially urged viewers to watch the ad in the humorous “spirit it was intended.” Later, its chief executive, Keith Belling, said in a statement: “Our team worked hard to create a lighthearted parody featuring a variety of characters that was meant to provide a few laughs. We did not intend to offend anyone. I take full responsibility and apologise to anyone we offended.”
Feed a Child, 2014
In July 2014, charity organisation Feed a Child apologised for being racist.
Their advert showed a seemingly rich white woman feeding a black child with the tagline that said "The average domestic dog eats better than millions of children".
The founder and CEO Alza Rautenbach said that the ad was shot to get a reaction from the public and bring to light to the fact that there are hungry children.
KFC's 'Tastes like home' advert caused quite a stir with South Africans in 2014 with some suggesting it reinforced the stereotype of black people loving fried chicken.
The contentious ad showed a young South African woman struggling to acclimatise to Bangkok. She is shown to be lost and sad - until she is approached by a girl who licks her fingers. The pair makes their way to KFC and we see the South African girl go from displaced to ecstatic as she takes her first bite of KFC.
Despite heavy backlash, the ad was not removed.
In a 2016 commercial for the Chinese company Qiaobi’s laundry detergent, an Asian woman shoves a detergent pod into a black man’s mouth and puts him in a washing machine, from which he emerges as a light-skinned Asian.
A spokeswoman for Qiaobi, Xu Chunyan, was unapologetic. “We did this for some sensational effect,” she said at the time. “If we just show laundry like all the other advertisements, ours will not stand out.”
Nivea, April 2017
In April, the skin care company Nivea released a deodorant ad that read, “White is purity.” White supremacists on the internet took note, with one 4chan user writing, “Nivea has chosen our side.”
A representative of Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, said it had “never intended to hurt anybody or to raise any wrong interpretation.”
But, like Dove, Nivea had offended before.
Six years earlier, after apologizing for an ad that showed a black man preparing to throw away his old Afro-wearing head behind the words “Re-civilize yourself,” it promised to review “current development and approval processes” in order to “avoid any kind of future misleading interpretations.”
Taco Bell, 2017
Taco Bell suffered a knock to its reputation after it 'accidentally' aired a controversial ad.
The vintage-style commercial featured a man unwrapping his meal and throwing the packaging away. It missed the trash can and subsequently hit a baby stroller that was being pushed by a black woman.
Taco Bell edited the commercial which now shows the wrapping going into the trash can. The fast-food chain has also removed the 'Naked Chicken Chalupa' item from its restaurants after the backlash.