Nivea USA, maker of skin care products, boosted its profile this week, but not in a civilized way.
An ad in Esquire magazine showed a clean-cut black man ready to heave a dark-skinned head with long locks and an unkempt beard, with the words, “Re-civilize yourself.” Reactions fanned across the Web, with accusations ranging from racism and ignorance to we’re-reading-too-much-into-this.
“Are you suggesting that Black men are uncivilized to begin with? There is too much history rooted in reducing Black people to comparisons to apes, monkeys, etc.,” wrote one blogger.
(A similar ad image, but with a white man and no reference to re-civilizing, garnered no such blowback.)
A spokesman for the Nivea’s parent company, Germany’s Beiersdorf AG, passed along this mea culpa: “We are deeply sorry for a recent ‘Re-civilized’ NIVEA For Men ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values at Beiersdorf and we do not tolerate insensitivity. It was never our intention to offend anyone and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again.”