Nivea’s Centennial was rocking in global momentum. The Rihanna buzz (campaign spokesperson) couldn’t be hotter, more grassroots, or more global. Then came this ad and the crash and burn is following with just as much heat.

Follow the story on Twitter: #nivea and/or #draftfcb (agency).

One day a Centennial Celebration…

How do you gain consumers’ trust? By listening to them and knowing exactly what they want. And by turning this knowledge into innovative and compelling products. We make every effort to be close to our consumers – and to our successful and strong brands, which we develop and maintain on an ongoing basis.

Nivea’s Rise to Iconic Brand Glory (Centennial Brands, 1)

Storified by eamcc . In 1911, Nivea (Beiersdorf AG) invented the face and form of modern skincare. Then, “class” was the only demographic; “upper” the only market. Nivea created this luminous cream with one goal: skincare for every woman.…(more)

Beiersdorf’s announcement of the Nivea centennial included plans to repurpose and rebrand Nivea. So it’s no wonder of the manufacturer’s ventures into building a male skincare presence. They’re also prime on localization. Add social media and you’ve got a perfect storm.

The Next – Crash and Burn

we are witnessing a social media disaster #nivea #draftfcb
August 19, 2011
Ay dios! Una patada en el orto a estos creativos locos de #Draftfcb por la campaña de #NiveaUK #re-civilize
August 19, 2011
Bloggers vetted the ad; vented their anger
Nivea Ad Is Racist As Hell!

Seconds later I discovered… Update: There has already been backlash! Check the links below. Related articles Nivea Pulls Ad, Apologizes After Racism Accusations ( Nivea Men’s Ca…
Nivea’s depiction of afros as “uncivilized” dredges up a nasty stereotype about black people.
Rod Hagwood
August 19, 2011
New Blog Post: Skin Care Giant Nivea Under Hot Water For Racist Ad
Dwight A. Owens
August 19, 2011
The buzz began
RT @DrJays_com: Do You Find This Nivea Advertisement Offensive? #Society #advertisement
August 19, 2011
Anúncio da Nivea é considerado RACISTA
August 19, 2011
Mainstream media jumped in…
Nivea’s New Ad Racist? – Forbes

I’m a long-time Forbes and ForbesWoman writer. I cover entertainment, celebrities, trends, models, and female-oriented stories. My first book, “Can’t Think Straight: A Memoir of Mixed-Up Love” was featured on The Today Show, The Joy Behar Show, in Marie Claire, The New York Post, The New York Times, the AOL home page, and other outlets.
They need better focus groups? “Nivea Makes Us Ask Again: Why Is It So Hard to Make Non-Racist Ads?” – Forbes
August 19, 2011
Nivea Ad: Is ‘Re-Civilize Yourself’ Racist? (PHOTO, POLL)

Like Cadbury, Dove and Summer’s Eve before it, Nivea may have just landed itself in hot water for a questionably racist ad. As seen on Good, Nivea has created a series of print ads for its Revitalizing line of men’s skincare that feature well-groomed men tossing away masks of their scraggly, pre-Nivea faces.
Brand Crisis Management Alert
Nivea Apologizes for Ad Telling Black Men to ‘Re-civilize’ Themselves
August 19, 2011
Nivea Apologizes For Racist “Re-Civilize Yourself” Afro Ad

Nivea has apologized for an advertisement they placed in Esquire that featured a clean cut African American male throwing a mask of a face with an Afro and beard with the title “Look Like You Give a Damn. Re-civilize Yourself.” People quickly turned to social networking and Twitter to voice displeasure over the ad.
Meanwhile, the Nivea for Men website (US) is stoic, posting no mention of the controversy.

Discover the world of NIVEA FOR MEN and find the right skin care, hair care, shaving, and shower products. NIVEA FOR MEN – What Men Want
“Pulling the ad” is a moot point as you can see. It may not appear in print magazines, but the jpegs will live on in online archives of blogs and photo galleries.
The Branding Fallout
August 19, 2011
Nice job Nivea: How could your ad group look at this ad and NOT see how it would be taken as racist? (9_9)
August 21, 2011

Pulled ad or no, the brand suffers critical loyalty issues. Nivea was developed to provide affordable skincare for the “masses.” Prior to Nivea reports, skincare was the “right” of the upperclass. So many of those offended were prime, loyal users themselves or have positive brand associations with special people in their lives.

said: Will Nivea Lose Rihanna Over Racist Ad? Video Internet Marketing
August 19, 2011


No brand is safe from controversy, and particularly personal brands involving such core issues of identity and comfort. While researching the Centennial storify, I was suprised to learn of controversies regarding Nivea in Germany in the 1930s. I was also surprised to see Nivea skin whitening products being marketed in Asia — Vietnam in particular.

Am I brand-loyal to Nivea? Ponds was my mother’s brand. I am also not paid by Nivea or any of its agencies.

It makes me wonder if “assault” advertising is the wave of Web2.0. Create controversy, watch the mass mingling, then hit back with crisis management. Here’s how the market is responding.

Beiersdorf AG

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