Wake County News

Raleigh dentist apologizes for 'ignorant and offensive' ad

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) - A Raleigh dentist is apologizing for an ad she called "ignorant and offensive" that ran in a local magazine. 

Dr. Jill Sonner with Renaissance Dental Center said there was no ill intent behind the ad that shows her and two other dentists advertising a free whitening system. 

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In the ad, Sonner is dressed in a Native American costume while the other dentists are in a geisha costume and a Scottish outfit. 

The ad appears in the May/June edition of Midtown Magazine.

"The idea behind the ad was just the message that a smile is universal, and we all smile in the same language. We did not realize at the time that it would be offensive or insensitive. We are truly sorry," Sonner told CBS 17. 

The ad has been removed and replaced from Midtown's online version with an ad they created for March Madness.

An apology was posted to the Renaissance Dental Center's Facebook page Thursday morning. 

"In one of our recent advertisements, we attempted to focus upon something that unites us…the warmth and joy behind a smile. 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."

Sonner said they hope to learn and grow from this. 

"We are a family practice and we always try to create ads that appeal to different patients of our practice, and after running this ad and realizing the impact, we are definitely going to be more thoughtful and intentional when we do our future ads," she said.

Midtown Magazine publisher and editor Connie Gentry said the ad should not have run.

"In hindsight, clearly this was an inappropriate and insensitive ad to run. That was never our intent and it certainly wasn't the intent of the advertiser," Gentry said.

"As soon as it was called to our attention, that people were offended, we removed and replaced it. Obviously we can't change it in the print edition, but we did change it instantly in our digital version and we would not run this ad again."

Gentry said Midtown Magazine will improve as a result. She said the incident shows the magazine needs stricter guidelines and a more thorough process in the way ads are placed into the magazine. 

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