Here is my two cents on the Nivea Controversy, and much has been said on the topic of what many are calling an insensitive Nivea print ad. The campaign (“RE-CIVILIZE YOURSELF”…from Nivea’s Look Like You Give A Damn ad campaign which targets men) shows a clean-cut black male tossing his alter ego uncivilized head aside (literally).
I don’t think this creative execution is racism on the part of Nivea, as some have decried, but I do think it’s a case of falling asleep at the “insensitivity” switch. In my 30 plus years in the ad business, I’ve seen this happen way too many times…and the reasons are as varied as the number of days in a year. All to often companies (and/or their media agents) become complacent to the real world sensitivities…surrounded by people who often times look and think like them…and not the real world people who are buying their products and services…and consequently lose sight of what may/could be offensive and what’s not.
There’s a lesson here. The simple solution is to incorporate diverse creative and media perspectives, through a diverse management and creative team, to give a voice on what can be construed as offensive. Nivea should have at the very least, an African-American ad agency or media consultant to vet creative concepts…perhaps they do. I think its a small price to pay (for advice) compared to all that free negative press…basically this should not happen in this day and age…but the road to insensitive ads is a cluttered one unfortunately…