This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can’t get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling. pic.twitter.com/8uR7XHNgVa— William Adoasi (@WilliamAdoasi) October 18, 2017
Nivea is under fire after it launched a new advertisement featuring a black woman with a tagline “for visibly fairer skin.”
The advert, which promotes the company’s latest product “Natural Fairness Body Lotion,” was targeted at women especially in Africa and is being advertised in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal. The product is being promoted via commercials and billboards.
In the ad, former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi appears and she can be seen applying the lotion.
“I need a product that I can really trust to restore my skin's natural fairness,” narrates the woman.
She can then be seen applying the lotion all over her body which literally changes her dark skin tone to a much lighter (and unnatural) complexion. Moments later, in the ad, Akinnifesi is complimented by a man for her beautiful and glowing skin.
“Now, I have visibly fairer skin, making me feel younger,” says the woman.
"Advertisers have the power to change this narrative, but campaign after campaign we see it being used worldwide," she wrote in an Instagram post.
The advertisement sparked widespread criticism.
“Making money out of making people hate themselves is never acceptable. Whitening and lightening creams are not only physically damaging, but also ethically wrong. Empowerment is not too much to ask for. All black skin is beautiful, no exceptions. Celebrate us as we are instead of asking us to adhere to unattainable and racist ideals,” said Munroe Bergdorf, who was fired by L’Oreal for her comments on racism.
After the backlash, Nivea sent an apology on Twitter.
The NIVEA Middle East post was not meant to be offensive. We apologize. It’s been removed. NIVEA values diversity and tolerance.— NIVEA USA (@NIVEAUSA) April 4, 2017
“We have recently noted concerns on social media by some consumers regarding our NIVEA Natural Fairness Body Lotion communication in Ghana. We would like to emphasize that this campaign is in no way meant to demean or glorify any person’s needs or preferences in skin care,” Nivea said in a statement.
The statement further read, “We respect every consumer’s right to choose products according to their personal preferences, and we are guided by that to responsibly provide them with safe and high-quality skin care product choices.”
Apparently, the company didn’t learn much from its past.
In 2011, the company launched an ad that featured a groomed black man holding the head of his former self, who's sporting a beard, an afro, and an angry expression (the stereotypical angry, black man). The ad came with a tagline: “Re-civilize yourself.”
The backlash from the ad forced it to pull the ad and issue an apology.
The advert comes just weeks after Dove, the self-proclaimed champion of “real beauty” for all bodies types, attempted to represent “women of color thoughtfully” with its latest ad. The company posted a 3-second video of a black woman removing her brown shirt to reveal a white woman in a light-colored shirt. A bottle of Dove body wash sat before the women on the bathroom counter.
We love our skin and can’t sit down for u guys to destroy our bodies #PULLITDOWNNOW— iDler (@iDler_adler) October 19, 2017
#PULLITDOWNNOW this Billboard message is nonsense. WHO TOLD NIVEA BLACK WOMEN ASKED FOR FAIRER SKIN?— Successfullmarian (@Successfullmar1) October 18, 2017
Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters, Fabian Bimmer