The German Nivea brand of personal care products has yanked out of the market an advertisement that was labeled racially insensitive. The ad promised “White is Purity” in reference to Nivea’s soap products. 
 
The ad featured an attractive woman with dark, flowing hair with her back turned to the viewer. The ad promoted Nivea’s Invisible for Black and White deodorant. It featured the tagline, “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible.” The ad was visible for but two days before being taken down.
 
Once it was shared on its Facebook page for Middle Eastern markets, the ad generated immediate righteous outrage on social media as people accused Nivea of racism and insensitivity. 
 
One commenter bearing the handle ScottProfessor on Twitter wrote, “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.”
 
In response, the German multinational released a statement saying, “We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post.” It added, “Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea.”
 
Nivea has gotten into a mess in the past for perceived racism. In 2011, for example, Nivea apologized for an ad that showed a clean-shaven black man holding a mask of a man with a beard and an Afro hair style. “Look Like You Give a Damn. Re-civilize Yourself,” the ad read.
 
Of late, Nivea has joined Pepsi in being the target of accusations of insensitivity and racism. On Wednesday, Pepsi pulled an ad featuring high-fashion model Kendall Jenner mimicking a real-life protester of Baton Rouge who offered herself for arrest during Black Lives Matter protests in Baton Rouge last year. Critics claimed that the ad is appropriating the Black Lives Matter movement in an effort to sell sodas.


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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