Nivea apologises for 'white is purity' advertising campaign praised by white supremacists

Mark Piggott
Nivea racism controversy 2017

German skin care manufacturer Nivea has apologised and pulled an advert for its deodorant after social media users tagged it as racist. The ad, aimed at the Middle East market, showed a woman in a towelling robe and the words "White is Purity." Beneath it continues: "'Keep it clean, keep bright. Don't let anything ruin it."

On Twitter, one typical disapproving poster, Scott Bellows, said: "Come on #Nivea. This is so racist that I do not even know where to begin. Speechless. In future, refer to clothes or products, not colors."

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Nivea - owned by Beiersdorf - removed the ad from its Facebook page, but not before racists made approving comments about the image, with one calling Nivea "the official moisturizer/anti-perspirant of the #AltRight."

Other posters added images of "Pepe the Frog," used as a hate symbol by far-right groups and individuals and listed as such by the Anti-Defamation League.

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This is not the first time Nivea has been criticised for its advertising. In 2011 Nivea was forced to pull another ad in which a black man in a jumper threw away the head of a black man with an Afro. The accompanying caption read: "Re-Civilize Yourself."

A spokesperson for Beiersdorf said: "There have been concerns risen about ethnic discrimination due to a post about NIVEA Deodorant Invisible for Black & White on our NIVEA Middle East Facebook page. 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 After realizing that the post is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.

"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."

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