German body and skin care brand Nivea has ended its “White Is Purity” advertising campaign following intense backlash from social media users who accused the company of racism.
The company ran an advert for its Invisible for Black & White deodorant, which featured a photo of a woman draped in a white sheet with the slogan “White Is Purity” across the bottom of the image:
— 🏳️🌈 Hayley 🏳️🌈 El Mayarah (@HayleyZorEl) April 3, 2017
The ad first appeared on the company’s Middle East Facebook page last week. Backlash was swift, with many social media users saying that the ad was racially insensitive:
— Dr. Scott Bellows (@ScottProfessor) April 4, 2017
— A Prakash (@nandighosha) April 5, 2017
Nivea released a statement Tuesday, apologizing to those who were offended by the advert.
“We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn,” Nivea said in a statement. “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
A representative from Nivea’s parent company, Beiersdorf, told the New York Times that “the ad was part of a broader campaign for the deodorant in the Middle East that linked the color black with strength and white with purity.”
“We never intended to hurt anybody or to raise any wrong interpretation,” the representative explained.
Nivea’s internal advertising blunder occurred amid Pepsi’s own advertising fiasco. The soda giant pulled its politically charged, protest-themed soda commercial Wednesday after massive online backlash.
After a week of advertising calamities, comedian Travon Free believes it might be time to start an “Ask a Black Person” consulting firm:
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