The advert in question featured a clean-shaven African-American man holding on to the longer hair of a bearded mask of its own face, in preparation to throw it away. The image was boldly emblazoned with the slogan ‘Re-civilize yourself’, in Esquire magazine.
According to the New York Times blog Media Decoder, negative public reaction to the advert began on Wednesday when photos of the ad started to circulate on social media websites.
In response to the public outcry over the ad, created by creative agency Draftfcb, Beiersdorf issued a public statement of apology on its website saying sorry for the offense caused as well as stating that the advertisement campaign would be stopped.
Beiersdorf USA emailed Adweek with a similar statement to the one on its website. “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. Beiersdorf, as a company, represents diversity, tolerance and equal opportunity. Direct and indirect discrimination must be ruled out in all decisions and in all areas of the company.”
The ad ran in the September issue of Esquire as part of Nivea’s ‘Look like you give a damn’ campaign which also has a similar version but with a Caucasian man instead.
However, there was no mention of re-civilizing him; rather the message here seems to be one of being inexcusably unkempt. The other ad’s slogan read, “Sin City isn’t an excuse to look like hell.”
Beiersdorf isn’t the only major cosmetic company to be caught in a racism furore; L’Oréal was convicted of racism by France’s highest court for recruiting Caucasian poeple only to sell its Garnier hair products.
According to the lawsuit, L’Oreal had issued a statement saying that employees called in to promote its Garnier hair products should be BBR, Bleu Blanc Rouge. The lawsuit alleged this was shorthand for white French people, cutting out anybody of ethnic origin.