I can totally see how this one went down. The Art Director cast women of various ethnicities, to show "diversity". Then, at the photoshoot (or afterwards in Photoshop) arranged them in to create an aesthetically-pleasing gradation of skin tones. Without paying attention to the actual ad claim behind them:
As MB Quirk at The Consumerist points out, "I'm inclined to think, and I hope I'm right, that Dove is really saying any woman of any color could get lovely skin instead of rough by lathering up with this wash. Either way, whoever approved this ad should get a thump on the head and a 'What were you thinking?'"
What were they thinking indeed... especially since Unilever, who owns Dove, actually is in the skin-whitening business in South Asia.
"Self-Esteem" my lily white ass...