The recent social media storm over Dove’s latest advertising campaign bears testimony to the increasing power of social media platforms and how brands are being held accountable for their every move.
This follows the online posting of an advertisement showing a black woman removing her top to reveal a white woman in the next frame.
The world is becoming increasingly mindful and watchful to political, social and environmental issues.
People are demanding greater transparency from their politicians, brands and leaders.
Dove may not have intended to be racist, but the interrogation process of its recent communication was not thorough enough.
Given that Dove is no stranger to controversy around some of its advertising campaigns, it is surprising that the recent ad did not raise a “red light”.
As custodians of the brands they produce work for, marketers need to consider every possible reaction to their communication in the public domain.
While this incident may not cause the brand irrevocable damage, it has resulted in considerable negative sentiment.
This will grow if the brand continues to make similar gaffes.
More than ever, consumers are putting pressure on brands, companies, individuals and governments to understand that really having and demonstrating strong ethics (and not just marketing it as a core values), has become an absolute necessity.
Dove’s mistakes are offset by some excellent campaigns that have positioned it as champion for women’s empowerment.
Dove could, however, quickly lose market share if it is not cognisant of the issues that are particularly sensitive to the markets in which it operates.
To reinvent its brand credibility and to prompt meaningful and emotional connections with its consumers, Dove needs to demonstrate genuine ethical transformation.
Failure to fix a consistently murky strategy could see consumers looking for an ethical alternative.
• Madelain Roscher is managing director of public relations firm PR Worx