This has not been a good week for brand campaigns when it comes to common sense. Pepsi has already faced a torrent of backlash after releasing what, at best, was a tone deaf ad showing Kylie Jenner solving police brutality and healing the world by giving an officer a can of soda during a nondescript protest.
So, just when we thought that was bad as it could get in 2017, skin care brand Nivea was on the other side of the globe pushing its own racist advertising messages. The brand posted to its Middle East Facebook page an ad with the words “White Is Purity” running across the back of a woman in a white robe, with the following text below it: “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anything ruin it.” All of this “purity” was meant to sellI its Invisible For Black & White deodorant that wouldn’t leave marks on either black or white clothing. Hmmmph.
After several days of backlash and becoming a new alt-right brand fave, Nivea finally deleted the ad. “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post,” said the company in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
But, this isn’t the first time Nivea has missed the mark. In 2011, the company charged men to “re-civilize” themselves by ditching their dread locs, afros and beards. At the end of the day, this speaks to a larger conversation about who’s in the room and actually has a seat at the stable when it comes to making these marketing decisions – and who they are marketing to. Going forward, I hope brands do more than review approval processes and actually bring more diversity to the table.