Talk about Lack of Cultural Competence-Nivea Pulls Offensive "Re-civilized" Ad
A Nivea print ad encouraging African-American men to “re-civilize” themselves, now appearing in September’s issue of Esquiremagazine, created a firestorm of tweets, Facebook updates and blog posts accusing the brand of racism.
Nivea took to its Facebook Page Thursday afternoon to issue an apology and thank fans for their concern. Parent company Beiersdorf AG withdrew the ad from future publication.
“Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent ‘Re-civilized’ NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive,” Nivea said on Facebook. “It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company.”
The ad in question portrays an African-American man tossing out a mask of himself with a beard and afro-style hairdo. It reads, “Look like you give a damn,” and has the phrase, “re-civilize yourself” bolded in all capital letters.
Bloggers, Twitter users and Facebook members took issue with the racial implications of the print ad.
“The message couldn’t be clearer: Natural hair on a black man isn’t a style preference or a nod to afrocentrism — it’s straight-up uncivilized,” GOOD Associate Editor Nona Willis Aronowitz wrote.
“Wonder what, if anything, @Rihanna will say about this as the face of #nivea,” fashion writer Septembre Anderson tweeted. Rihanna was chosen as the official spokeswoman for Nivea earlier this year. The caption on Anderson’s Twitpic photo reads, “Adding Nivea to the list of companies that will not be getting my money. Post-racial my ass.”
A separate ad featuring “a clean-shaven white guy getting ready to toss away his scraggly unshaven head and the words, ‘Sin City isn’t an excuse to look like hell,’” seemed to be overlooked in the midst of the social media uprising, according to AdAge.
Nivea parent company Beiersdorf AG shared the following longer statement with CNN:
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific local advertisement. After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.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. This applies regardless of gender, age, race, skin color, religion, ideology, sexual orientation, or disability. Nor should cultural, ethnic, or national origin, and political or philosophical conviction be of any significance.”