Beauty brand Nivea slapped a “white is purity” slogan on one of its recent advertisements, a move that caused outrage worldwide, prompting them to pull out shortly after release.
— BBC Newsbeat (@BBCNewsbeat) April 4, 2017
The ad for its invisible deodorant was posted on the brand’s Facebook page, geo-targeted at followers in the Middle East.
“Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible,” the post reads.
“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,” a spokesperson from NIVEA’s parent company, Beiersdorf, told the BBC. “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.
The post caused an outrage on social media, and Twitter users were quick to point out the brand’s failure to incorporate diversity.
— Sahar (@saharmali) April 5, 2017
Between Nivea’s “white is purity” ad and Pepsi’s “Black soda matters” ad I think it’s time to open my “Ask A Black person” consulting firm.
— Travon Free (@Travon) April 5, 2017
Many found parallels between Nivea and Pepsi’s Kendall Jenner add, which showed the model handing a can of soda to police officers. The ad was considered offensive by many in reference to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and racial tensions surrounding police brutality against African Americans in the U.S.
Pepsi: We’ve done it. We’ve created the most tone-deaf ad of the week. Maybe the year!
Nivea: Hold my beer. pic.twitter.com/jdNfdvqjOg
— Madison M. K. (@4evrmalone) April 5, 2017
Meanwhile, Nivea pulled out the ad and said the following: “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.
The incident mirrors a 2011 Nivea ad (and a near-identical apology) that was also deemed racially insensitive. The ad featured an African-American man throwing a human head and the copy “re-civilize yourself.”