Nivea pulls White is purity ad from Facebook in face of racism allegations

Skincare brand Nivea has pulled an advert from Facebook after it came under fire for being racist.

The ad, posted on the brands Middle Eastern Facebook page, showed a woman dressed all in white and bathed in light, with the unfortunate slogan “White is purity”.

Nivea apparently missed the ugly racial connotations of the phrase – but they were not lost on Facebook users, who were quick to share and comment on the post, with pictures of Hitler and Pepe the Frog, mascot of the so-called alt-right, among the most liked responses.

The ad was subsequently removed from Facebook, but not before screenshots started to circulate on Twitter. One user, self-identifying as a member of the alt-right, referred to Nivea as “the official moisturizer/anti-perspirant of the #AltRight”.

“Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea,” a spokesperson told BBC News. “We value difference. Direct or indirect discrimination must be ruled out in all decisions by, and in all areas of our activities.”

Its not an isolated incident for Nivea, however, which is currently running a black and white-themed campaign in the Middle East. Another post from campaign appearing on the brands page, which has not yet been taken down, is captioned “Black stays black. White stays white.”

While users of both Twitter and Facebook have jumped on that phrasing, others have pointed to a 2011 Nivea ad which depicted a black man throwing a decapitated head – presumably meant to be his own – with an afro and beard, and the slogan “Re-civilise yourself”. The ad was accused of tapping into negative stereotypes regarding black features.