After blogs, tweets, and news outlets chimed in on Nivea’s controversial “Look Like You Give A Damn” campaign—featuring a clean-cut Black man holding the head of a caveman look-a-like with brown skin and an afro—the skin care giant decided to pull the ad, and apologize for offending consumers.

Today, Nivea issued an apology via Facebook:

Thank you for caring enough to give us your feedback about the recent “Re-civilized” NIVEA FOR MEN ad. This ad was inappropriate and offensive. It was never our intention to offend anyone, and for this we are deeply sorry. This ad will never be used again. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of our company.

Although the advertisement ran in Esquire, the web, and was, according to the company, “inappropriate and offensive,” the people over at Nivea decided to use it anyway.

According to a credible source who worked on the project, the “Look Like You Give A Damn” campaign was the brainchild of Cliff Carson, a VP from the New York based agency PMK BNC who handles all branding and marketing strategy for Nivea, and he happens to be African American. The source says Carson was hired to target the urban market.

The source tells Clutch, “The VP in charge of the entire marketing campaign for the men’s skin care line is a Black male who mainly got in the position to put Blacks on a cosmetics branding pedestal – hence the brand now having a Black spokesmodel.”

Further details from the source reveals the initial ad featuring a Black male model is apart of a larger series of more print ads, viral, and commercial spots which will also feature White male models using similar text. We should also note the model in the now controversial ad is BJ Williams, and popular writer, Oren Wilkes, is a Nivea blogger ambassador and agency creative on the project.

But on the latest Nivea ad featuring a White male model, the former ‘Civilized’ text is replaced with the line ‘Sin city isn’t an excuse to look like hell.’

Is it safe to say Black men look uncivilized, and White men look like hell?

What do you think of Nivea’s apology? Why do companies continue to miss the mark when marketing toward multicultural audiences?


*Reporting by Britni Danielle & Geneva S. Thomas 

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  • Kae

    I personally do not think that they necessarily “missed the mark” with this ad. Granted, upon first reading this post I was a little unnerved by the wording. However, after hearing that there were other versions of the ad with the same premise that feature men of other ethnic backgrounds I will have to charge this to the game of US sometimes being oversensitive. It states in this post that the gentleman behind this advertisement is in the business of giving more African Americans a spot in the market. I can say that maybe the wording was a little off, but we also have to realize that every time someone says something we can’t automatically hop on the race train. This attitude may ultimately turn advertisers and other companies off from working with/featuring us in their work because they are afraid of saying or displaying the wrong image even if it was not their intention by a long shot. Sometimes we have to calm down.

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