Nivea’s “White Is Purity” Ad For Deodorant Doesn’t Pass The Smell Test
April 8th, 2017 – On the heels of Pepsi’s ill-advised, protest-themed ad featuring Kendall Jenner as a “woke” millennial, another corporate ad campaign has snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Skin care giant, Nivea, incurred the wrath of Black Twitter with its newest promotion which, proudly and inexplicably, boasts “White is Purity.”
I love a social media manger with a death wish. pic.twitter.com/M86Y4AhJaD
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) April 3, 2017
The ad featured a woman dressed in white with long brown hair photographed from behind in a bright, sunlit room with the infamous words printed in large block letters. Social media immediately criticized the ad for racial insensitivity as well as for parroting the most basic tenant of white supremacy to sell deodorant. The company quickly posted apology replies to its many regional Twitter pages and released a statement on Tuesday.
@_NaturallyChic The NIVEA Middle East post was not meant to be offensive. We apologize. It’s been removed. NIVEA values diversity and tolerance.
— NIVEA USA (@NIVEAUSA) April 3, 2017
@flamboyance20 @NIVEAUSA The NIVEA Middle East post was not in any way meant to be offensive. We deeply apologise for offence caused and it’s been removed… (1/2)
— NiveaUK (@niveauk) April 7, 2017
@thefutureisred … We truly value equality and diversity ?
— NiveaUK (@niveauk) April 7, 2017
White supremacist groups, however, were quick to co-opt the ad for their own purposes, one online commenter writing:
“We enthusiastically support this new direction your company is taking. I’m glad we can all agree that #WhiteIsPurity.”
In response to the public outcry, a spokeswoman at Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf Global AG, drafted a statement reading:
“That image was inappropriate and not reflective of our values as a company. We deeply apologize for that and have removed the post. Diversity and inclusivity are crucial values of NIVEA. We take pride in creating products that promote beauty in all forms. Discrimination of any kind is simply not acceptable to us as a company, as employees, or as individuals.”
The company was at least better prepared this time after the German skin care brand was roundly flogged on social media for yet another racially tone-deaf campaign. The 2011 ad, under the slogan “Re-civilize yourself,” featured a freshly groomed black man in professional attire discarding his own recently severed, pre-groomed head. The implication being that a beard along with wearing his natural hair as it grows out of his head was somehow uncivilized. A second ad featuring a white model in the same scenario was also created but without the entreaty to “re-civilize.”
After seeing @niveauk “white is purity” ad, I immediately remembered this:
“RE-CIVILIZE YOURSELF” by Nivea
Nivea, hire some POC ya? pic.twitter.com/7xIczrkcCW
— Marwa Balkar (@MarwaBalkar) April 6, 2017
In their apology for that 2011 campaign, Nivea assured its customers:
“This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again.”
In response to the whitelash, Nivea has pulled its new “White is Purity” ad from circulation. Although, according to The Washington Post, a previous “Invisible” ad stating “Black Stays black. White Stays White.” was still used on the Nivea Middle East Facebook page as of Wednesday morning.
Do you think Nivea’s ad was a harmless take on effective deodorant or a serious misstep they should have seen coming? Funny or Offensive? Vote and comment below.