Skin care giant NIVEA has been forced to apologize for an advert that encourages Black men to "re-civilize" themselves. The print ad for Nivea for Men shows a clean-cut Black man tossing the head of a Black man with an Afro and beard—presumably his earlier non-Nivea self—and the motto: "Look Like You Give A Damn ... Re-Civilize Yourself."
The ad was heavily criticized: The "message couldn't be clearer: natural hair on a black man isn't a style preference or a nod to afrocentrism—it's straight-up uncivilized," wrote GOOD's Nona Willis Aronowitz. Public outrage ensued, especially on Twitter, which resulted in a prompt apology by Nivea.
Beiersdorf AG, the parent company of Nivea, released the following statement to CNN: “After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.” The apology also emphasized that Nivea values and represents “diversity, tolerance, and equal opportunity.” Nivea USA also posted on its Facebook page: “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.”
The controversy unfolded across Twitter on Wednesday. #Nivea became one of the top trending topics on the social networking platform.
The advert was part of a new branding campaign that also uses white male models. None of the others ads, with the exception of the one using the Black model, employ the term "civilize", reports Ad Age.
Rihanna is one of its Nivea's celebrity spokesmodels. Rihanna has made no comment on the controversy.
ClutchmagOnline gives the brand a sarcastic benefit of the doubt: "Perhaps they are trying to capitalize on the popularity of Planet of the Apes?”