A North Carolina dental office has pulled a magazine ad after backlash on social media in response to the three white dentists wearing Asian, Native American and Scottish costumes above a message about "whitening."
Users on social media scrutinized Renaissance Dental Center, a Raleigh-based dental office, on Wednesday and Thursday for an ad in Midtown Magazine’s May/June issue that showed the practice’s white doctors, Anita Wells, Jill Sonner and Anna Abernethy, each wearing a dress of a different culture
Ilina Ewen, the chief of staff for North Carolina’s first lady, Kristin Cooper, posted a photo of the ad on Twitter and Facebook, earlier in the week, calling it “shameful.”
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The headline of the original ad reads, “Everyone smiles in the same language!” Below the photo the ad reads, "Free whitening system." And below that, it reads, “No matter your accent or origin, everyone can appreciate a beautiful smile…”
Renaissance Dental apologized Wednesday on Twitter and Facebook after The News & Observer asked the practice for a comment about reactions on social media condemning the ad they placed in Midtown Magazine.
"In one of our recent advertisements, we attempted to focus upon something that unites us…the warmth and joy behind a smile,” Renaissance Dental wrote. “We now realize it was ignorant and offensive, and we are truly sorry. We have learned a valuable lesson in this situation. Again, our sincere apologies."
Connie Gentry, publisher of Midtown Magazine, apologized for the “offensive” ad on Thursday and said it shouldn’t have been published.
"In hindsight, it's obvious that this ad was in poor taste and should not have been allowed,” Gentry said.
“I'm truly sorry this mistake was made; it simply never occurred to the team at Renaissance Dental or our team at Midtown that the ad would be perceived as anything other than how it was intended."
"We have partnered with Renaissance Dental Center for several years and will continue our partnership, including working together to make amends for this ad. We know there was no ill-intent behind the ad, and we sincerely apologize to our readers and the community.”
Midtown Magazine changed the controversial advertisement Thursday afternoon, replacing it with a photo of the three doctors in referee costumes, which the practice has previously used on social media to promote the business during March Madness.
"As soon as it was called to our attention, that people were offended, we removed and replaced it,” Gentry told CBS 17 Thursday.
The headline of the new ad, which is only in the online version of the issue, says “Take a timeout for your smile in 2018!”
The text below the photo has been changed to, “Free smile evaluation.” And the reference to accent or origin has changed to “Is your smile becoming to you? If not, you should be coming to us!”
Despite apologies made by both businesses, social media users continue to scrutinize decision-making of the original ad.