Nivea, one of the world’s most well-known skin care companies, faced backlash on Twitter and Facebook after running an advertisement for a new deodorant product which many social media users quickly labeled as racist.
The image — since deleted — 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 company captioned this photo, “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anyone ruin it, #invisible” — and it quickly came under criticism by Facebook and Twitter users.
People across the globe responded to the German skincare company’s insensitive marketing tactics, taking to social media to call the company out for its lack of diversity.
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
Shade Adu, a personal brand strategist and student at the University of Wisconsin tweeted directly to the company, stating “#Nivea, who in yall marketing department thought that your latest ad was a good idea. #diversitymatters.”
— Shadé Y. Adu (@shadeyaabirago) April 6, 2017
Adu, in an email interview, said the episode shows why diversity in the advertising industry is needed.
“This is not cool,” she said. “There are a ton of racial undertones in this advertisement”
Adu prides herself on her active voice in diversity issues. “I remain vocal about these issues,” she said. “I do social media marketing and I study gender and race issues as a doctoral student. This is embedded in my life’s work.”
Maggie Fesenmair, a media scholar and PhD candidate in the Department of Communication at the University of Washington, was also shocked by the content of Nivea’s advertisement.
“How could this have possibly been made into a campaign?” Fesenmair said in an email interview.
“It also indicates a larger societal problem,” Fesenmair said.“Maybe having more people in the room or a more diverse team would have caught this advertisement before posting.”
After the global criticism, the company removed the advertisement and released a statement of apology.
“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 After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.
But it wasn’t good enough for Twitter user Auria P. Moore, who said, “Ugh. #Nivea continues to promote #racism in their ads, then apologize. So much bad #marketing these days, smh #blacktwitter #Pepsi.”
— Auria P. Moore (@auriapmoore) April 6, 2017
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