On the heels of Pepsi’s mea culpa comes another doozy, this time in the form of a major skincare company posting and then pulling an advertising campaign criticized as racist (and co-opted by white supremacists) on social media.
Who knew you could make deodorant reek so badly?
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
You see, while you were reeling from Pepsi’s straight-up implosion, Nivea had also released its Invisible for Black & White deodorant. But just wait ’til you hear the mind-numbing pièce de résistance advertisers of the German skincare giant decided to go with to promote it: “White is Purity.”
Nivea sorry for ‘white is purity’ Facebook ad https://t.co/CGlXuJAK1w
— Carl Carter (@MyMediaExpert) April 4, 2017
It gets worse. The post, which was marketed to the brand’s Middle Eastern followers, featured a photo of the back of a woman’s head with shiny dark hair cascading down her all-white outfit. The caption? “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.”
With two back-to-back campaigns completely missing the mark like this, it really makes you wonder about the teams vetting these ads before they’re fired out into the great equalizing abyss of the internet and met with universally resounding WTFs the world over.
Nivea has since pulled the ad and halted the entire campaign, issuing a standard apology on Tuesday, a full two days after it was posted. “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” the company said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
But of course, the social media damage was already done.
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
Someone is legitimately employed & paid to come up with “White is purity” as Nivea’s new ad slogan and here I am struggling to get hired??
— Kyle Elizabeth (@kylekerch) April 6, 2017
The overt racism in the ad eerily recalls Nivea’s 2011 campaign, in which a well-dressed black man rips off his natural hair under the tagline: “Re-civilize yourself.” At the time, Nivea apologized for the “inappropriate and offensive” campaign. But it doesn’t seem like the brand has learned its lesson.
Here’s the thing, when these kind of instances happen time and again, sorry just doesn’t cut it. If diversity and equal opportunity really are crucial values, start showing it.
First Nivea say “white is purity” and now Pepsi uses protest to sell soda. Advertisers, stop embarrassing yourselves. Hire diverse talent.
— Philip Ellis (@Philip_Ellis) April 4, 2017