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Curly Nikki

Nivea the Company Culturally Insensitive?

By January 27th, 202173 Comments

Nivea the Company Culturally Insensitive?

I hope that reps for Nivea are prepared for wig snatching because that’s precisely what’s on the mind of some after seeing the above ad on Twitter. Just in case your vision is a little cloudy, the ad showcases a black man, decently dressed but holding a face with an afro with the caption Recivilize yourself with Look like you give a damn just above it. This, according to some, suggests that Nivea is saying that if you’re rocking an afro/natural, you’re just not civilized.

Do you think that Nivea is being culturally insensitive? Is there a real need for anger on this? My personal opinion is yes, the ad IS offensive. However, the thing that irks me about it all is that even with all the anger and outrage, there will STILL be several people who will continue supporting the brand.

What do you guys think? Check out a closer version below (via Twitter).

Nivea the Company Culturally Insensitive?


  • Anonymous says:

    Wake up Black people! Lets just put this in another context for one moment,how would white America feel if the participants in the commercial were people of Jewish descent? Would the sentiment still be the same? Ultimately, it is wrong! The ethnicity they chose to exploit is very relevant. They are just showing how little regard they have for Black people. They also know we will continue to spend our money and support their products no matter how horribly they treat us. Willie Lynch continues to be in full effect.

  • PJ says:

    Even outside of this ad, if anyone wants proof that racism is alive, well and rampant, all they have to do is look at half of these morons here commenting. Like Anonymous posting on August 19, 2011 at 9:37 PM. I guess it's easy to expose yourself as the racist ass you are when you can do it anonymously. Don't have the balls enough to actually show your face and do it right?

    The ad might not have been intentionally racist, because, obviously, what company wants to deal with THAT accusation, but it might have revealed some subconscious feelings that even the creators of the ad didn't know they had. Because if the issue is shaving and facial hair, they could have just had a head with low cut hair and not a huge afro. I do think that there is cultural insensitivity here, if not out and out racism.

  • Anonymous says:

    All I know is that I am forced to work with Blacks because of quota's and they all use it as an excuse to do as little as possible. I'm sorry there is one black guy who is worth a shit. Sorry that was racist of me to lump him in with the other 19.

  • Courtney says:

    There was another version of this ad with a white guy (see below). It appears that all they were trying to do was diversity their advertising with two versions of the same ad.

  • Anonymous says:

    look Nivea apologized:

    i also agree this ad was not intentionally racist. i see how it comes off as offensive (yes im black), but i dont think that was Nivea's intention

  • Aishah says:

    @ Naomi:

    You seem very articulate and mature for a 14 year old. And based on your comment I'm going to guess that in your 14 years on this earth you haven't encountered much racism (God bless you). But you have to understand that based on where you live in this country racism is still a VERY relevant topic.

    And it's irrelevant whether or not a black man came up with the ad because black people are just as susceptible to believing stereotypes about black people as people of other races. Believe it or not there are some black people that don't like being black and hence they adopt seemingly racist attitudes towards other blacks.

    Perhaps you haven't learned in history class yet about how minorities have routinely been referred to as uncivilized throughout history. THAT'S what makes this ad offensive. Not the picture but the wording accompanying the picture, which insinuates that a black man with an afro is uncivilized.

  • Aishah says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Annabel says:

    My opinion: distasteful marketing (once again)! Who are these companies paying the big dollars to seriously!? I read this post, which shows a Black male's perspective on the ad…Interesting to see things from his point of view, he draws a lot of good points.

  • Tricia says:

    oh my god!! I dont know whether to laugh or be shocked! RE CIVILIZE YOURSELF?


  • Anonymous says:

    I don't find it racist, at least not intentionally. It's just a poorly executed ad campaign. Nivea has been around for a while and back in the day, every chick I knew swore by the infamous blue jar of that thick white cream. Definitely, not worth calling the company over. It will disappear once they realize how stupid the ad was and more importantly, didn't increase sales.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't believe that the ad is racist. At a first glance it may seem like it, but when you see the other ads it shows that it's just trying to show people that they should stay groomed in the creator's opinion. However, I do believe that it may be a slight harsh in the fact that it's portraying that people who are geared more towards the unshaven rough look, are uncivilized. I don't think that they should be criticized for how they look because that's their personal style. No one has the right to say that someone else needs to cut, straighten, curl or do whatever else "needed" to fit society's standards. People have their own choice in how they want to look and what they believe looks best. Everyone was made in the image of God, which makes everyone perfect the way they are. Only God should be able to judge someone, and I'm sure that he won't do that based on the superficial standards that our society places on us. Therefore, don't call someone racist because they have a different belief in the way that they think people should look. At the same token no one should say that someone looks "uncivilized" just because they're different in some way. In the end that's what makes us all unique in our own way. The only way for us to change these ads or the anger geared towards them, is to try and broaden the definition of beauty in society. But, bickering about the situation will not solve any problems. Us working together as a society is what will make change. It doesn't matter if you're African American, Caucasian, Asia, Native American, Jewish, goth, shaved, curly haired, red haired, or anything else. We're all human, and that's all that matters. Not what others may think of you, but what you think of yourself.

    ~Monique Dorroh newly 17 year old (July 28th) signing out

  • Naomi :) says:

    One thing that I've noticed on here is that we as black women seem to over react to every little thing. This ad isn't racist. Wrong choice of words maybe but this isn't the way to react to a frivolous ad, and it's MADE FOR MEN but do you see them saying that it's racist? The fact that we're still bringing up racism in 2011 obviously is saying that we have a problem with our image. Before you even 'write letters'to Nivea bashing them for a 'racist'ad look at this….

    a black person could've come up with this concept for all we know and I'm beginning to think people dont know the meaning of racist nowadays… it's not like if it's a white man holding the afro man so I suggest we stop stop jumping to conclusions yeah?

    I'm 14 years old and it's shameful to see the kind of comments posted by grown women.

  • MelMelBee says:

    If this ad was solely about shaving products as some have mentioned, then the after picture should still have the fro with a shaved face!

    ***Off to write a letter to Nivea!***

    If you all are upset about it, then let the company know!

  • Anonymous says:

    So I was willing to look passed my initial reaction to this ad, until I saw that the "re-civilize yourself" tag was only used here. People can say what they want about black people being too sensitive and this is just marketing,
    But I refuse to believe that a group of advertising executives couldn't see the problem with implying that a beard+afro+black man = uncivilized. I feel like they took the easy way out and relied on stereotype to make a tasteless joke.

  • Ronnie says:

    It's The ad speaks volumes. I will not repost or even type the company's name–that's giving them waaay too much credibility and exposure. Let's be clear, and ad campaign should not cause anyone to feel sorry for themselves. It is totally acceptable to be annoyed/digusted but 'sorry'—nah. The people behind the ad are who should feel like crap…I refuse to carry that load on their behalf.

  • Anonymous says:

    complain here

  • Anonymous says:

    I've never purchased Nieva products and don't intend to now. And besides it's a German company… enough said.

  • Anonymous says:

    SHEEP! play into the strategy, go ahead. Keep posting it on OUR blogs making US try to feel sorry for ourselves.

    WHEN will we give this offended at everything shit a rest?! Let it go, like it or not they are making money off of us RIGHT now.

  • Anonymous says:

    I look at this ad and I feel like it is OFFENSIVE! This is based on a culture of people who have been know to think that they are the "Cream of the Crop"! And anyone or any other culture that dosen't assimulate to their standards of beaty are consider other or second class!

    It say's to me that Afro hair has no place in todays civilized world where everyone is supposed to have evolved. (BS) and the picture of the model represents the way that a man specifically a black man should look if they want "white America" to consider them "civilized"!

    This to me is why they have the black model holding the head in a position as to chuck the head away. Well that what I got anyways. Shaving cream ad or not…they know what they were doing. I feel like they don't give a damn who they offend! I never used their products anyways…I don't care how good they are. There are always other lines to use.

  • Julissa says:

    I don't even buy Nivea products anymore, I don't buy Garnier either, they discriminate when selecting their models for products, no dark skin women are selected, there was a law suit going on in the UK because of this.

  • coilyRN says:

    OK guys. I'm changing my tune. Just saw the white equivalent adds that Nivea has for the same line of products. Not one of them mentions the word "civilize" in any shape or fashion, only the one with the black model. So YES, this add IS racist.

  • Anonymous says:

    Everyone has a right to an opinion, me personally, I think it is offensive and ignorant. The impression I get, is that they are saying if you are rocking a fro or are not shaved, you are not civilized. We all know that is BS and IGNORANT. They done lost their damn minds, fell off the bus and hit their heads. That is offensive on so many levels. That's the problem "An American in Europe", certain people are always trying to figure out what black folks, might say, do, write or look like, but they have not a clue. They put themselves out there via TV or marketing and then look like fools. Ignorant is Ignorant, whether it is in Essence or in Cosmo. Ignorance has no color, it just shows a lack of knowledge.

  • Anonymous says:


  • An American in Europe says:

    I do not find it offensive nor do I think it is racist. Quite honestly, I think there is a corresponding one in cosmo or some other predominantely white magazine that has a man with long scraggly hair and an overgrown beard too. Also, the text 'Look like you give a damn.' That sounds just like black folks wrote it.

  • Anonymous says:

    aww man, looks sadly at beautiful nivea kiss of moisture chap stick, welp back to EOS I go. The part that gets me is the "re-civilize" and the "look like you give a damn", I'm not trying to be oversensitive here but REALLY?

  • Anonymous says:

    I'm kind of on the fence about the racism aspect of this campaign. If not mistaken, Nivea has come out with a line of men care products and their slogan is something to the effect of "look like you give a damn" on their tv ads. Probably they could have used a different pictorial as it does appear that they are saying that a man wearing an afro does not give a damn. Probably should have used a man wearing an afro that is neatly maintained rather than suggesting that in order to look like he gives a damn, he needed to get rid of his afro.

  • yadams says:

    Rather than malevolence, the ad reads and looks more like lazy and uncreative advertising to me. Marketing 101 teaches you to know your audience and communicate clearly.

  • Anonymous says:

    smh at some of these comments…. DO u even understand what uncivilized is?????? Because a man has an afro means he is uncivilized????? Really… how many hard working, God fearing, family loving men have afros? ALOT!
    I mean I'm natural and there are days when I walk around with my big hair that I havent combed… that does NOT make me uncivilized. And I certainly give a damn. This is distasteful.
    If they didnt mean any harm, someone in the marketing dept should have said "you know.. this could be really offensive so maybe we should change it around".
    Someone could slap some of yall and call you a nigga and you would say.. well they didnt say NIGGER so it's not racist. Child Please!

  • Mb430 says:

    Honestly, I am getting really tired of this style of marketing. Nobody wants to spend the money on clever advertising anymore. They just aim to upset as many people outside their target audience as possible so they can get free publicity on blogs, and social media. I think I may need to write them an email.

  • Anonymous says:

    If you are really passionate, Let your voice be heard! Be pro-active in a "civilized" way! Please write and/or call today! Here is their contact info: 1-800-227-4703 M-F 9:30-4:30 EST.The link to their page to WRITE an email is:

  • Anonymous says:

    "They could have done his "after" look with a neater afro, and close cut beard instead of a close cut hairstyle. That would have won praises from me and I would have bought some stuff just because of that."

    ^^^I absolutely agree with this statement. Also, I've seen the other ads in the campaign. In addition to the Black model, they also have 2 white models. ( All 3 ads have the slogan "Look like you give a damn", however the Black man seems to be the only one that got an individual ad of his own, and his ad is the only one that says "Re-civilize Yourself".

    When our ancestors were brought over, whites thought they were "civilizing" them by assimilating them into an already pre-existing culture. Now Nivea thinks that we need "re-civilize ourselves"?

    I get the concept of the ad, although they failed at it. The slogans are more so what I have a problem with.

  • Anonymous says:

    As a person and a natural African American female who is a professional, I felt the ad was very inappropriate and insensitive. However, I do understand that this is a marketing strategy. For me it's all in the principle! Let’s say we take out the fact that this person is black and the head has an afro…either way this ad is suggesting that in order to achieve a certain look of beauty(civilized), you have to look a certain way. That I don't agree with. God made us all different and our differences are a part of what make us beautiful. This is just "my opinion" on the matter.

  • Anonymous says:

    We as black folks can be sooooo overly sensitive and want to find every little thing offensive. There's nothing offensive about this ad. It's an unkempt man and there's nothing civilized about that look. If I saw this man in the street I would think he didn't give a damn either.

  • Anonymous says:

    If Nivea meant the ad to be only about facial hair b/c they're selling shaving products, the model could have had an afro instead of a lowcut. ~KF519

  • Anonymous says:

    Hate to admit it but my husband would absolutely agree with that ad as it relates to men. He loves my natural hair but he is constantly saying grown "a" men need to look like grown "a" men. It my not be fair for people to judge us based on appearance but you got to get in where you fit in.

  • KC says:

    If the ad is about shaving–fine, but who could tell from looking at it? Whether it's offensive or not, it kinda sucks anyway.

    But the skin firming lotion is the so I will still be using it LOL.

  • tasha25 says:

    This ad is insensitive and offensive if for no other reason than it displaying a black man being told to "re-civilize" and being shown as a barbarian of sorts (head in hand). It has been a long standing sterotype that blacks are an uncivilized people, barbaric people. It's a lie but a sterotype none the less. This very stereotype is the reason why whites thought they were doing us a "favor" by enslaving us and later on shoving their culture down our throats…and if you think that isn't true all you need to do is look at the persistent issues in the black community. There are blacks that are still adopting a white beauty standard instead of accepting/creating their own. Idk who they have behind these racist ads but Lord somone needs to sit them down in history of the black diaspora 101. We have a right to be offended. It's just sad when we are so used to blatant disrespect, that some of us just stop caring. The moral of my story: Nivea won't be getting any of my money…EVER.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think this ad can go both ways. It can be seen as offensive as well as not offensive. Because black people have had so much history concerning negative racial slurs, and being "civilized" by the white race, this ad is offensive. It could be taken that the afro as well as the facial hair is uncivilized or fits "white standards." Because we live in a white dominated world things pertaining to certain cultural groups most often seem offensive. But on the other hand, the man just happens to b a black model. i honestly dont think this ad would have caught as much attention if the model wasnt black. the man just looks like he hasnt kept himself up until he used the nivea products. but then there could have also been an intent to make black people feel big afros or long facial hair is not "standard." there could have also been people who didnt think the ad would appear that way. i personally do not think its offensive. if this was the 1920s or 1950 then heck yeah its super offensive! but i think we should be getting over the race issue now and stop taking everything to heart.

  • Anonymous says:

    I have never purchased their products, and never will. I did take the time to submit my comments to them. I usually don't let things bother me, but this is just unacceptable. Everyone who is bothered by this ad should contact them with their complaint.

  • Anonymous says:

    Clearly this is a company with racist biases that further extend to their hiring practices based on how you naturally look. Our wooly hair is natural and god given. This just shows how pathetic their corporate ethics are and how they perceive black men as animals for being natural. Their agenda is to make black men look how they want them to look in-order to accepted in Nivea's world of acceptance.

    It just shows lack of diversity they have in management and marketing. I will never, ever buy the product again. You can file a complaint here.

  • Afro Adie says:

    Awful in every way!!!

  • Maya Ange'le says:

    Pissed off doesn't even begin to cover how I felt when seeing this ad. I responded to it on my own blog:

  • NhappyJackie says:

    Ok, this is Nivea people. Until they decide to start making hair products instead of lotion, I take everything they say with a grain of salt.

  • Anonymous says:

    i was like wauww, dont do that Nivea. I have used the brand since i were a little girl, seriously,and my parents is using it too! But again when i think sometimes it's a white boy or girl with a big frizzy and ruined hair, but offcourse this aint ruined it just natural so it aint good looking this comercial. I dont think that there really is been giving much thought about what it also could say.

  • OW_I_KNOW says:

    but ive lived in africa for soo long and im sad to say but, almost everyone here wouldn even look twice at the ad since they share sentiments

  • OW_I_KNOW says:

    i just think its stupid because there aftershave sucks.

  • Aishah says:

    @ Anon August 17, 2011 11:04 PM:

    But the add ISN'T a white man holding a white head with frizzy unkempt hair. And if it was I hardly think the caption would insinuate that the frizzy hair was uncivilized.

    Black people (and minorities in general) have been referred to as savages and uncivilized by white folks for quite some time. There's history behind certain words and it always amazes me how people act so unaware of why people find certain words offensive. It's not the word itself it's the history attached to the word that's offensive and I would expect marketing execs to be more aware. SMH

  • CoilyRN says:

    For everyone who takes offense to this ad – imagine you're advertising shaving products and you want to show a sharp contrast between a person who uses your products and a person who does not. Oh, and the "person"/model is black. How would YOU show this contrast?

  • I Am Your People says:

    aliyakeys said…
    This is horrible! I think if there is any race that gets bashed the most, it's hands-down African Americans. Another sad part, is that the African American model or actor in the ad actually agreed to doing this for Nivea.

    I don't blame the model in the ad. The CAPTION is racist – what he's doing in the pic isn't. He didn't have a clue what this ad would look like

  • Anonymous says:

    Hum it looks like the man holding head needs to be re-civilized : > )
    Well u know I just saying.

  • Miss. Leah says:

    Ummmm Im so offended I had to comment! Ugh my feelings are hurt some what. Nivea you get a big SIDE EYE and I will boycott your products… Booooo!

  • CurlyQ says:

    Dude…. *heavy sigh* I promise you, I want to care more. I want to be offended.

    But honestly, I'm just sick and tired of being sick and tired. Weren't we all mad and up in arms about something just last week? I don't even remember what it was– but I was mad. And I don't think it got us anywhere.

    If I'm that ticked, I'd rather choose to just not patronize Nivea rather than sit and talk about it. Folks are ignorant. Water is wet. Fire is hot. Next?

  • Anonymous says:

    if they print a white man with long hair and a scruffy beard with the same caption i'd still be upset. I don't think it was meant to target anyone but the presentation is bad. many men rock fros and beards(my hubby who is in the navy) look neat and many men wear short cuts and so on and look a mess. HMM my hubby uses there products I wonder what he thinks?

  • Anonymous says:

    If the model was white and he was holding a frizzy head, this wouldn't even be a debate. The ad might have even passed unnoticed. Black people always say they want to see more black models, right? Well here's one and he's holding a head that needs to be shaved. The guy has an afro that looks like it hasn't seen a comb it months. Too good at being offended – that's what I say about fellow black people nowadays. Every single thing irritates.

    I don't think this ad is meant to insult black people. I think the whole "re-civilize yourself" is just a dumb, offensive slogan to men in general. The product isn't aimed at black men, is it? There just happens to be a black model. That's the way I see it.

  • Anonymous says:


  • Anonymous says:

    I do feel like this ad makes NIVEA culturally insensitive, I mean, that head in the hand could be Eric Benet, Lenny Kravitz or Gray Dourdan and I think each of theose men are handsome & sexy in their own right. Not very nice of Nivea and now I feel really bad because I use Nivea products. It's the only thing that has repaired my skin so well over the past year. I've use pure shea butter, pure cocoa butter & the 100% organic coconut oil that I use on my hair and none of them have revived my skin the way NIVEA lotion has so, unfortunately, I will continue to support/purchase from this company but…. I think I'll be contacting them to aware them that they have a customer that is very displeased with this particular advertisement.

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't find it offensive…everyone ain't out to get black people. Its sad cause many men walk around looking uncivilized and think they suppose to get a job, get a chick, or whatever looking like that. I think its just saying dude needs to clean up…a black man with an unkept fro and out grown facial hair is not what's up at all…its not okay for any race to walk around lookn like 'who the hell did it and why?'…take some pride and care in your appearnce…and who knows nivea might have the same advertisment with a different male for certain magz

  • Anonymous says:

    I just think that we're over reacting here a bit. I agree with La Maravilla. The ad IS about facial hair and shaving creams etc so they probably thought, that maybe if the guy "let himself go" and grew an "unkempt" beard then why not grow the hair on his head too. I don't think that they're targeting the afro but I agree that people will definitely see it that way,also
    re-civilized doesn't mean "become more white." Come on. If this was a "white" ad I'm sure the head would have long,frizzy hair wouldn't it? And it wouldn't be a big problem then to most people right? Now let's be honest ladies, how many of you would look at the 'afro man' and want to date him on first sight?

  • ladybug22 says:

    I think the ad is insensitive to african americans. I agree that the head is unkempt but there are more tasteful options that could capture the same message. I have never used their products, and this surely doesn't motivate me to reach in my wallet.

  • anewmeepassion says:

    I think its really not about natural hair. It's just a commercial telling men to shave and use their products. It just so happen that they had a black model so obviously he would have afro textured hair growing out of his head. I doubt that anyone would really take a black man with straight hair seriously. I think some of these topics are a little too sensitive sometimes. Not every afro related thing in the media has some big message behind it. THEY JUST WANT MEN TO SHAVE! peace

  • Laurie says:


    This ad company clearly needs to hire some black people since that's who's money they are after. You wanna sell to us, then hire us!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Oh hell no! Somebody needs to stop the madness..really.

  • Anonymous says:

    They could have done his "after" look with a neater afro, and close cut beard instead of a close cut hairstyle. That would have won praises from me and I would have bought some stuff just because of that.

  • Yirssi says:

    La Maravilla, I'm sorry, but I disagree. I don't see anything unkempt about his fro. I think he's just rocking it.

  • Yirssi says:

    #1 This is C-R-A-Z-Y. I feel like printing this out and walking around with it and pulling it out whenever someone says that racism isn't still alive and kicking.

    #2 this is one of those ads that I just wonder, why didn't someone stop and say "wait. That's offensive."

  • Anonymous says:

    I don't know about this one ladies. I see a lot of black men walking around who definitely need to re-civilize themselves. Unkempt hair, oversize clothes, dirty skin, etc, etc. And they get upset because you don't talk to them. No way you can a have a job looking like that. Give me a break and pick up a razor and a comb. Just my opinion 🙂

  • LaMaraVilla says:

    I dunno . . . If I saw a guy that looked like the dummy head I would have thought that he didn't give a damn either. It has unkempt facial hair and the afro is clearly not combed and just looks bad.

    And it's not as if the ad is talking about the hair on the head, it's addressing facial hair. The products advertised are shaving products.

  • Anonymous says:

    It could have also been a stock photo w/the head photoshopped in. Blame should be placed solely on Nivea for this one.

  • Unknown says:

    The model wouldn't actually know what the print was going to be. I'm pretty sure that he saw the end result when all of us did.

  • Kiki says:


  • Anonymous says:

    The part that gets me is the other caption "Look like you give a damn." Seriously??!!

  • Anonymous says:

    Alikya, I agree. It's one thing for the company to have thought that was a good idea, it's another for a black actor to sign on. We don't have to play 'mammy' anymore.

  • aliyakeys says:

    This is horrible! I think if there is any race that gets bashed the most, it's hands-down African Americans. Another sad part, is that the African American model or actor in the ad actually agreed to doing this for Nivea.

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