Just three seconds long, the latest ad from Dove brought a storm of backlash from critics and consumers. Once loyal customers are speaking out against the company and claiming they will not be using their products anymore. Dove, once praised for their brand identity of representing women of all shapes, sizes and ethnicities, is now being called racist and evoking anger from their customers. If only they had tested their ad…

Dove’s core message, according to Dove spokeswoman Marissa Solan, “was intended to convey that Dove Body Wash is for every woman and is a celebration of diversity.”

However, some consumers got a different message. When the ad was released on Facebook, the reaction from social media users was one of outrage as they felt the ad was racist. The image of a black woman “becoming” a white woman suggested that using Dove Body Wash can “wash you into being white.” Viral screenshots of the ad continued to attract bad press even after Dove removed it and made a public apology.

This was not the first time Dove has found itself embroiled in ad controversy, as CNN political commentator Keith Boykin went to Twitter to point out.  “Okay, Dove … One racist ad makes you suspect. Two racist ads makes you kinda guilty.”

The hashtag #BoycottDove is also gaining momentum.  And not in a good way.

Where did Dove go wrong and how can other companies communicate their message to customers the right way?  It’s simple.  Test your ad before your advertising campaign. Leave nothing up to chance.

Cases such as this remind us why ad testing is a critical part of the marketing process.  Is your message resonating with your target audience and your brand?  Are reactions to the ad positive or negative?  Is there anything offensive in your ad?  An important thing to remember is that perception is reality.  The ultimate success of your advertising campaign is measured in the way your consumers perceive and respond to your ad.

It appears that Dove did not test this ad before launching it.  Many companies think that ad testing is too timely and costly for their advertising campaigns, but that simply is not the case anymore.  Bruno and Ridgway conducts ad testing that can be highly cost-effective, with a quick turnaround. A simple, low-cost, one-time investment could have saved Dove from a publicity nightmare.

Before your next advertising campaign, reach out to us for a free consultation on exactly how ad testing works, and how easily it fits into your marketing process. 

Dove are you listening?