German body and skin care brand Nivea has apologized and ended its “White Is Purity” advertising campaign following outrage and intense backlash from social media for being racially insensitive.
The company ran an advert for its Invisible for Black & White deodorant, which featured a photo of a woman draped in a white sheet with the slogan “White Is Purity” across the bottom of the image.
The ad first appeared on the company’s Middle East Facebook page last week. Backlash was swift, with many social media users saying that the ad was racially insensitive:
Nivea released a statement Tuesday, apologizing to those who were offended by the advert.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offence to this specific post. After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn,” Nivea said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
A representative from Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, told the New York Times that “the ad was part of a broader campaign for the deodorant in the Middle East that linked the color black with strength and white with purity.”
“We never intended to hurt anybody or to raise any wrong interpretation,” the representative explained.
After a week of advertising calamities, comedian Travon Free believes it might be time to start an “Ask a Black Person” consulting firm.
“That image was inappropriate and not reflective of our values as a company. We deeply apologize for that and have removed the post,” the statement read. “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.” Still, makes you wonder about the diversity of the team who approved this campaign.
With the racial tensions being what they are in this country we look forward to a time of fewer apologies and more pro-active planning!
The uproar began after the company’s Middle East Facebook page promoted a post featuring a woman with long dark hair seated on a bed with the slogan beneath her.
A caption read: “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.” The post was meant to promote Invisible for Black & White deodorant, a stain-free antiperspirant meant for use with black or white clothing.
Nivea’s move came one day before Pepsi faced fierce backlash for an ad that showed reality star Kendall Jenner joining a joyous protest.
Critics skewered the soda brand for painting a rosy picture of recent social turbulence, in particular protests involving the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Nivea’s case, the Facebook post caught the attention of white supremacist groups, who rallied around it on social media.
In one case, a user wrote, “We enthusiastically support this new direction your company is taking. I’m glad we can all agree that WhiteisPurity,” The Washington Post reported.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the brand has faced similar controversy. Nivea is no stranger to such controversies. In 2011, the brand pulled an ad that showed a black man tossing a dummy head with an Afro hairstyle, with the line “Re-Civilize Yourself.”
So how can such campaigns, which so many instantly read as racially charged, make it into the public eye?