Dental Office Faces Cultural Appropriation Backlash

Editor’s Note: When reading this story about cultural appropriation in dental marketing, consider not only how to avoid a similar situation during promotions and holidays, but also your practice’s plan when faced with public backlash. There are many avenues to consider: Immediately responding is an obvious reaction, but what you say can drastically alter your next move. Do you make a statement on your website; send an apology to your patients; post to your Facebook page? Consider making a plan now, so if a problem does arise you’re ready.

Before the “Everyone Smiles in the Same Language” ad — before the anger and accusations of cultural appropriation and hurried apologies — about the worst critique someone could make about the Renaissance Dental Center’s promotions was that they were too cheesy.

In most of the professionally shot photos for the practice based in Raleigh, N.C., three blonde female dentists are seen flashing gleaming smiles while sporting an array of costumes.

In March, they went with a construction theme — hard hats, a shovel in one dentist’s hand, a drill (get it?) in another’s. A month earlier, it was a workout concept, with pink headbands and hand weights. “When it comes to our patients, we always ~work~ it out!”

But things soured this week, when the Renaissance Dental Center women who had once posed with heart hand signs and a giant teddy bear for Valentine’s Day were suddenly being called aloof cultural appropriators amid accusations that they were whitening more than just smiles.

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