You know when you work on a project for so long that eventually you lose sight of the details and end up making an obvious mistake? We call that being too close to the work, or not being able to see the forest through the trees. Sometimes you’ve got to take a step back to understand how it all comes together, or better yet, have somebody else take a look at it.
This is exactly what Nivea didn’t do with their recent and short-lived “White Is Purity” deodorant campaign, which was launched with a post on Facebook targeted at Nivea followers in the Middle East last week.
— ⚡️Hayley ⚡ (@HayleyZorEl) April 3, 2017
You’d think even the intern would’ve been able to spot the issue here. The ad pictured a woman photographed from behind with her hair loosely falling down her back, and the words “White Is Purity” written across the bottom of the image.
The caption of the post: “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.” It was meant to suggest people use their “Invisible for Black and White” deodorant, but we’re not so sure it worked that way.
Obviously, the post quickly caused outrage online.
— Janet Emery (@JanetEmeryID) April 5, 2017
So, how do multimillion dollar companies like Nivea and Pepsi not have anyone on their marketing team say, “maybe this isn’t a great idea”.
— Jake Fales (@AlwaysFales) April 5, 2017
Nivea quickly removed the post and has been apologizing to everyone and anyone since, saying in a response to Tweets “The Nivea Middle East post was not meant to be offensive. We apologize. It’s been removed. Nivea values diversity and tolerance.”
@DavidArtiss The NIVEA Middle East post was not meant to be offensive. We apologize. It’s been removed. NIVEA values diversity and tolerance.
— NIVEA USA (@NIVEAUSA) April 4, 2017
This is one project that should’ve been axed or seriously revised long before anyone in the public was allowed to see it. But we did, and wow. So much wow that far right extremists began showing their support for it on their Facebook pages and in the comments sections of the post — not exactly the kind of social media traction Nivea was after.
What’s more, this isn’t the first time Nivea has found itself in hot water over what some deemed to be racially offensive advertising. In 2011 when the company had to publicly apologize for its “Re-Civilize Yourself” men’s campaign.
What’s going on over there, Nivea? By our count, that’s strike two.