There’s little that can be said without it getting caught under the tweet-blog-share microscope of the interwebs anymore. Social media whiplash can be the boon or beast of any company’s products. Skin care company Nivea received a rude awakening after they became the subject of conversation for an ad that many found racially insensitive.
An advertismeent for Nivea’s men skincare line appeared in the September issue of Esquire magazine, showcasing a clean-shave African-American male holding a mask of a black men with an Afro hair style and a beard. Lines under the ad state, “Look Like You Give a Damn. Re-civilize Yourself.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa–what? We had to pause at that one too. As people who value commercial art and the jobs that advertisers do, we had to say that we get what they mean and that the lines were quite clever. It seemed that Nivea more so meant to insinuate that not being clean-cut is an image that will relate mankind to barbarians or cave men. But there is one important thing to note that undermined their attempt and their message: the hair on the mask.
Like seriously, what kind of caveman rocks an afro?
In fact, the mask itself seems to just depict the image of a modern black man that you could see walking down the street, thus skewing Nivea’s cleverness to sheer mockery of the African-American race. Afros represent black power, progressive and radical at one point; however in the ad it is seemingly lessened for its symbolic status and made a fool of. Perhaps, if they had just loosened up those coils. If they had just given the mask straighter hair, they could have avoided all the shock over the ad.
But instead the company was the trending topic on Twitter this week, reciving tweets like what the thequeenofohio wrote: “LMAO @ this nivea ad. racism still alive, they just be concealin it. barely.”
Many others who voiced their opinions online found the ad to be insensitive or racist as well.
The buzz must have gotten back to Nivea’s PR people because a statement apologizing for the ad was released to CNN from Beiersdorf AG, Nivea’s parent company:
“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 After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.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.”
They also apologized through Facebook:
“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. 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.”