Pepsi isn’t the only one at the center of controversy as skin care brand Nivea was forced to remove a white supremacist-like advertisement that proclaimed “white is purity.”
Nivea, a German company owned by Beiersdorf, unveiled a deodorant campaign for Middle Eastern customers on Facebook Friday, March 31, before public outcry and an adaptation by white supremacists led to its removal Tuesday, March 4.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” the company said in a statement to BBC. “After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.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.”
The photo for the “Invisible for Black and White” deodorant campaign showed a woman in a white shirt sitting in a bright room with dark hair spiraling down her back.
“White is purity,” the ad read with the Facebook caption reading, “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.”
Some white supremacists ate it up and a Beiersdorf spokesperson explained the ad was part of a larger Middle Eastern promotion tying the color white with purity and black with strength.
“We never intended to hurt anybody or to raise any wrong interpretation,” the spokesperson told The New York Times.
Other social media commenters lashed out at the brand’s seemingly racist advertisement
Looking at the racist Nivea ads like my parents when I started listening to rock music. You know that's a black name, Nivea. Ain't no shame.
— Tim Barnes (@TimBarnes451) April 4, 2017
Come on #Nivea. This is so racist that I do not even know where to begin.😠 Speechless. In future, refer to clothes or products, not colors. pic.twitter.com/m0KTSALFKo
— Scott Bellows (@ScottProfessor) April 4, 2017
One person pointed to the connection between another Nivea ad released to a critical reaction in 2011, which showed a Black man preparing to toss his decapitated afro-sporting head with the phrase, “re-civilize yourself.”
A similar ad for the “Nivea for Men” campaign was released with a white man in the same position, AdWeek reported, but it did not include the “re-civilize yourself” slogan.
The poor response led to a review of promotions to avoid a similar snafu in the future, according to The NYT.
Looks like @NIVEAUSA is trying to tell us something. 🤔 #WhiteIsPure #AfrosUncivilized #Nivea #MAGA 🤷🏾♀️ pic.twitter.com/lW6kposEoK
— Tiffany A. Van Dyke (@Tiffany_Ann_411) April 3, 2017
On Wednesday, Pepsi withdrew its commercial featuring Kendall Jenner at the center of a protest after backlash arose for it seeming to take advantage of Black Lives Matter demonstrations.
In May, a Chinese detergent company was under fire for suggesting a Black man is dirty after a commercial showed him emerging from a washing machine as a Chinese man.