Controversy over Nivea Advertisement

Have you ever seen something that made you stop and just take a moment? I mean, literally, your heart skipped a beat. Well, if you haven’t, you may get the chance after seeing this new advertisement from Nivea.

Since June of this year, I’ve been posting, examining, and discussing advertisements that feature models or actors with natural hair on my blog Natural Hair in the Media. I have to say, I have never come across something like this Nivea For Men advertisement. In the ad, you see a seemingly well-groomed, well-dressed black man flinging the head of his supposed opposite: a black man with a beard and a thick afro. The tagline reads: “Look like you give a damn” and “Re-civilize yourself”.

Now, my first question to you is this – “What is this ad supposed to mean?” The obvious answer to me would be that people who wear natural hair (specifically, afros), don’t look like they care about their appearance; AND that natural hair is uncivilized. I say this because the head with natural hair is simply that – a head. What’s being compared is not a style of dress, but hairstyles and grooming.

But hey, there may be another answer. I’m open-minded. If you know, I’d love to hear it. What do you think the ad is trying to say?

If you can’t formulate an answer, like me you may be struggling to understand how this is not offensive? Or, better yet, a negative representation of natural hair? Is this enough to make you stop buying the product? If not, will it make you think twice, or not at all?

Although I continue to find advertisements, commercials, etc. that showcase natural hair in a positive way, the media never ceases to amaze me. I mean… if I could find out what agency came up with the concept, I’d have to ask the creative director, “what were you thinking?!”

Update: Earlier today, NiveaUSA posted the following apology on their Facebook page: “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.”

Is this apology too little too late?

5 thoughts on “Controversy over Nivea Advertisement

  1. i don’t know, i got what they were going for. they had the big scruffy beard on him, grown out hair….just things that aren’t usually desirable in a professional setting….black men’s hair/facial looks like that when they let it “go”, I call my brother wolf man moses when he starts looking like that. So, I’m not really offended by the ad, especially if they have scruffy white dudes with grown out hair too who clean themselves up. I mean, should they have had a black dude with a crisp low haircut as the before? when they grow their hair out, it DOES look like that…it wasn’t a neat low afro, it was one that would not be in a boardroom. *shrugs* I get it…didn’t seem like a dig at being natural, really, more a dig at being scruffy

  2. I’m honestly torn about this magazine ad. As I mentioned, it seemed like they were highlighting the importance of grooming. In this ad, grooming includes your face and your hair. Was the guy’s hair “wild”? Yes. Would you see it in a boardroom? No.

    But what makes Nivea think that everyone wants to be “clean-cut” and “civilized” by their definition? I value diversity, and personally have the most problems with their use of the adjective “uncivilized”. To be honest, if they had taken that out, I may not have been so taken aback.

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