So, I’m a little late to the scene on this one. But apparently, Nivea is taking some heat for a recently launched ad aimed at men looking to better groom themselves. To wit, the ad (in the pic above) as featured in the Sept. edition of Esquire magazine is a hotbed of controversy for seemingly implying that the black man pictured was shedding his unrefined appearance (afro and all) in favor of a more “re-civilizing” look. After public outrage, Nivea has withdrawn the ad and has issued the following statement:
“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 After realizing that this ad is misleading, it was immediately withdrawn.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.”
Each time a company spokesperson defaults to the mechanized ‘diversity and tolerance’ statement in a tepid attempt at damage control, I feel like I’m one of the Peanuts’ characters listening to an adult. “Waaaank, wank, wank, wank, waaaaaank” is all I seem to hear.
Following my history of social commentary, you’ll know that I spend as much time as anybody focusing on issues of race, racism, and racial sensitivities. But this is silly, even for me. So rather than going into a long diatribe about this nonsense, I can sum up my feelings in one minute. Simply put, if we spend our time, energy and resources creating misplaced outrage over an ad that is – at the very worst – socially superficial, then our ability to contest more relevant struggles of race and identity gets severely compromised. There. That was easy.
Oh yeah. Before I forget, Nivea did a similar ad with a white dude in it: