White dentists apologize for posing in ‘free whitening’ ad in cultural garb

These dentists left no one smiling over this ad.

Three white dentists in North Carolina apologized for a cringe-worthy magazine ad offering a “free whitening system” while they wore culturally appropriated costumes.

“Everyone smiles in the same language,” an ad for Renaissance Dental Center in Midtown Magazine’s May issue reads, featuring a trio of female dentists in a Japanese kimono, Native American garb and a Celtic costume. “No matter your accent or origin, everyone can appreciate a beautiful smile!”

The Raleigh-based dental center apologized early Thursday for the advertisement, saying it tried to focus on something that everyone could relate to – “the warmth and joy of a smile” – but admitted it missed the mark.

“We now realize it was ignorant and offensive, and we are truly sorry,” the company tweeted. “We have learned a valuable lesson in this situation. Again, our sincere apologies.”

The crude ad caught the eyes of the chief of staff for North Carolina’s first lady, prompting Ilina Ewen to post it onto her personal Facebook page, The News & Observer reports. The post was later taken down.

But the dentists – all of whom are North Carolina natives, according to their website – caught serious backlash online for the racy attempt to bring in new business.

“How many hands did this have to go thru before it made it to the media?” one user replied. “Not one person thought about how this wasn’t okay? Y’all knew exactly what y’all were doing with this ‘whitening system.’ Good play on words.”

Another person said they even reported the ad to the National Congress of American Indians, while another noted how the dentist office wasn’t far from at least two Native American tribes.

“You couldn’t have consulted someone tribal to pose?” the user asked.

The publisher of Midtown Magazine, meanwhile, has apologized for running the ad.

“The most important thing I have to say is how very sorry I am that an offensive ad was published,” publisher Connie Gentry told The News & Observer. “In hindsight, it’s obvious that this ad was in poor taste and should not have been allowed. I’m truly sorry that 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.”

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