After the whole Pepsi debacle, you would think that companies would pay a little more attention and be extra careful with the subliminal messages they are putting across through their marketing campaigns. Nivea is the next target the internet have zeroed in on, thanks to their ads that left many furious and some scratching their heads in disbelief.
The German personal care brand recently came under fire for this ad campaign:
I love a social media manger with a death wish. pic.twitter.com/M86Y4AhJaD
— Nathalie Gordon (@awlilnatty) April 3, 2017
Yikes! We think it’s pretty self-explanatory why netizens came out in hoards, armed with pitchforks and flamed keyboards. The slogan looks like (and probably is) something White Supremacists such as the KKK would print out on a T-shirt. The caption “Keep it clean… Don’t let anything ruin it,” seems rather aggressive for a simple deodorant ad. Thus, adding fuel to the fire. News of the advertisement exploded and the entire campaign got roasted by the internet.
Related article: 12 Pepsi Commercials That Were Actually Good
Between Nivea's "white is purity" ad and Pepsi's "Black soda matters" ad I think it's time to open my "Ask A Black person" consulting firm.
— Travon Free (@Travon) April 5, 2017
This happens ACROSS the board. Not just with brands but also in media (we have a million examples) and elsewhere. Diversify your teams, pls.
— Sakita Holley (@MissSuccess) April 4, 2017
Things took a turn for the worse when official White Supremacist sites and twitter accounts started retweeting the ad, turning it into a validation of their extreme political views. This created even more misunderstandings and you can tell that Nivea, at this point, is scrambling to rectify the situation before they get branded as the official deodorant of the KKK.
Nivea has chosen our side and the most liked comments are glorious. pic.twitter.com/BJ7pr6feEc
— JuliusSeg ?? (@JuliusSeg) April 3, 2017
— European Americans™ (@EuroAmericans) April 4, 2017
Nivea quickly pulled the ad (though we doubt anyone will be able to forget such a controversial slogan) and proceeded to give an official apology via social media.
Unfortunately, you can’t stop an avalanche midway. People were quick to dig through the skeletons in Nivea’s closet and realize that this was not their first marketing faux pas. In 2011, Nivea released an ad campaign for their men’s grooming line that featured a black man about to fling a disembodied head with an Afro across a parking lot. The tagline “Re-civilize Yourself” accompanied the image and we are left shaking our heads.
"Look like you give a damn…Re-civilize yourself"? pic.twitter.com/kCa6neUhS7
— Eddie Caligula (@EddieisCaligula) April 5, 2017
It does make one wonder, who would sign off on this? For many of us, these two campaigns are major face-palm moments as they are almost incredulously ignorant to racial issues. Intentions aside, it is the ignorance and lack of sensitivity that creates the impression that their company (or marketing team, at least) desperately lack diversity.
Upon releasing an apology and pulling the ad, we suspect that Nivea will be doing some damage-control. But such a massive faux pas will not be easily forgotten, especially in the current state of high-strung socio-political tensions. Words carry a heavier meaning now more than ever.
It remains to be seen how big brands such as Pepsi and Nivea bounce back from this backlash. Thus, the world will patiently wait while Nivea “re-civilize themselves” and regroup.
By Hanan Haddad