How it went down:
In 2015 Nivea released a deodorant ad with the tag line “White is Purity”. In the advertisement they released, there was a woman who is clearly of white descent with the tag line that caused a lot of frustration on the internet. The ad was posted onto Nivea’s Middle East Facebook page with the caption “Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don’t let anything ruin it.”
People immediately took to social media accusing the brand of being “insensitive” and “racist”. The timing was extremely poor as the racial tension in the United States was high and many people were beside themselves on how a national brand such as Nivea could release something like this. To make matters worse, groups and pages on Facebook who had previously shared white supremacy views, shared the advertisement. However, they did not share the advertisement because they were upset, they shared it because they agreed. One white supremacy group went as far to say this “We enthusiastically support this new direction your company is taking. I’m glad we can all agree that #whiteispurity”.
The clearest way to avoid advertising disasters like this is fairly simple. Nivea should have known that this kind of ad would spark controversy especially in the United States. Just by knowing what is happening around the world helps so that you don’t say anything that might offend someone. We would also recommend that they make charitable donations as a public apology doesn’t always do the trick. It’s becoming increasingly harder to please everyone and the route that Nivea took pleased absolutely no one. Know your market, know the culture and know current events.