The globally popular soap brand Dove has apologized for "missing the mark" after it came under fire for a Facebook ad that depicted a black woman transforming into a white woman through its product.
"An image we recently posted on Facebook missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused," tweeted Dove, which is owned by the Dutch-British company Unilever.
In the ad, posted Saturday and which has now been deleted, Dove showed a black woman using its product. When the woman removes her brown shirt, she turns into a white woman.
"Dove is committed to representing the beauty of diversity," the company said on its Facebook page. "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. The feedback that has been shared is important to us and we'll use it to guide us in the future."
The ad drew widespread criticism from consumers.
"What exactly were yall going for?" a consumer said on Dove's Facebook page, according to Chicago Tribune. "What was the mark ... I mean anyone with eyes can see how offensive this is. Not one person on your staff objected to this? Wow. Will not be buying your products anymore."
"That's not missing the mark, that's ensuring that I will never buy another Dove product and I will encourage every one I know to join me," wrote another user, Mary Braden, of Baltimore, Maryland, according to NBC.
In a 2011 ad, Dove showed three women standing in front of a wall designated "before" and "after." The "before" woman had dark skin, the woman in between had medium-toned skin and the "after" woman was white.
Dove had apologized for the 2011 ad, blaming it on an intern.
On its website, Dave says it's running a "Dove Self-Esteem Project," which is "a mission to help the next generation of women realize their full potential."
"At Dove, we have a vision of a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety. Our mission is to ensure the next generation grow up enjoying a positive relationship with the way they look – helping girls to raise their self-esteem and realise their full potential," it says.
On its Facebook page, the company says, "Dove believes that beauty should be for everyone, because when you look and feel your best, you feel better about yourself."