Racist Ad Dissing Afros Reveals Uncivilized Side of Madison Avenue

nivea ad racistSeems like there's a trend in the personal care product world this summer to attempt to anger the masses win customers with racist ads. First, we had to endure Talking Stereotyped Vaginas-gate of 2011, and now, Nivea is under fire for their totally racist print ad that encourages black men to "re-civilize" themselves with shaving products. Sounds like a really bad Onion or Tosh.0 joke, right? But it's not.

The ad, which ran once in Esquire and has since been pulled, showed an image of a black man holding the head of his old, less-civilized self by the afro. The tagline "Re-Civilize Yourself" is accompanied by the equally eye-rollingly patronizing wording, "Look like you give a damn." Incredible. No. More like INSANE that someone thought this was okay!


Consider for a moment how the violent, creepy ad looks against another targeted at white men. That print ad says, "Sin City isn't an excuse to look like hell." In the white guy ad, there's no judgment, except maybe the hint that white guys are Hangover-obsessed playboys (which most men would probably take as a compliment). The models are just playing a Vegas table game, lookin' clean-shaven and suave.

Making matters worse, some people have pointed out that the decapitated head in the "re-civilize" ad looks suspiciously like Dr. Cornel West, one of America's foremost thinkers, who happens to have a very prominent afro and beard. It's almost as if the minds behind the Nivea ad were making a not-so-direct jab at the prominent black intellectual. 

Excuse me while I slap myself on the forehead on behalf of this debacle.

Sure, I appreciate that the parent company, Beiersdorf USA, apologized immediately when asked for comment by AdWeek. They acknowledged the ad was inappropriate and offensive. But there's no reason it should have come to this. Someone should have axed the ad well before it made it into Esquire. I'm so sick of anyone -- company, politician, celebrity -- thinking they can carelessly throw something uber-racist, violent, repulsive out into the world, and then get away with a "very sorry!" Maybe the public can forgive it ... but they certainly shouldn't forget.

What do you think of this ad?

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