Earlier this month, Nivea, faced a large backlash on both Twitter and Facebook after running an ad for a new deodorant many labeled as racist. The image was originally posted on Nivea’s Middle East Facebook page, showing a woman facing towards a window surrounded by white linen and walls. The slogan written underneath stated, “White is Purity.”The caption read “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anyone ruin it, #invisible”.
The official Nivea page has over 19 million likes, and has shared advertising ideas in the past, though none have received this kind of reaction.
This is not the first time that the cosmetics giant has received criticism for “racist” advertising. In 2011, they received a similar backlash for their “Look Like You Give a Damn”. That campaign included an advertisement showing a black man and the slogan “Re-Civilize Yourself.” The image featured the man discarding an unkempt mask of himself to reveal a clean-shaven face. A partner ad was run featuring a white male, but included a different caption which read “Sin City isn’t an excuse to look like Hell.”
The company withdrew the 2011 ad after numerous complaints apologised on Facebook stating:
Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent "Re-civilized" NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was…
Nivea were tackled on this new ad by Metro and Nivea told them: ‘There have been concerns risen about ethnic discrimination due to a post about NIVEA Deodorant Invisible for Black & White on our NIVEA Middle East Facebook page. We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offence to this specific post.
‘After realising that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.
‘Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of NIVEA: The brand represents diversity, tolerance, and equal opportunity.
‘We value difference. Direct or indirect discrimination must be ruled out in all decisions by, and in all areas of our activities.
‘This applies regardless of gender, age, race, skin colour, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, or disability. Nor should cultural, ethnic, or national origin, and political or philosophical conviction be of any significance.’