Thursday, August 18, 2011

Is this NIVEA ad racist?

(click ad)
Good says yes! I say, eh, I'm not going down Shitstorm Boulevard again. See the full ad here, where there's also a white guy version—a version that is missing the key "re-civilize yourself" line. Note: Being a headhunter is kinda uncivilized. Ad agency: Draftfcb NYC. Previously in Afros:
Belgian hot tub ad.
Japanese cookie packaging.


Anonymous CopyDan said...

It looks a little racist on its own. But are there other executions that use a clean shaven white guy discarding a similarly scruffy old head? If so, then I would say not racist, but not sensitive. But what do I know? I'm a clean shaven white guy.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Israel Villarreal Copywriter said...

Naw, I don't see it racist at all, could work as well as this if the model was Indian, Hispanic, Caucasian or Asian. Why do we read the ad twice and with certain skepticism when a black model is in the pic? i think the ad works and it's ok.

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12:41 PM  
Blogger Joy B said...

I don't see how any person of color couldn't see this & think, "So if my hair is natural, I'm uncivilized?"

I think it was poor execution on Nivea's part. What made him civilized, a shave and a haircut? Well, since the scraggly beard is barely visible due to the poor angle, all that's left for the viewer is the difference in the hair.

Why wouldn't people with a well-documented history of their hair and how others judge them by it find this racist? Israel above said it works for any race. Well, since most other races have not had their hair become a racial issue, he's being very short-sighted. Just like Nivea.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Bock McMillan said...

You called it correctly, copyranter, definitely racist!

3:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your implied definition--and America's in general--of racist is a little confused.

How, exactly, does this ad even remotely suggest that one culture is superior to another?

Don't get me wrong. I see how this ad could be offensive to some, but racist? No way, Mr. 'ranter.

Those who would become offended at such a layout/statement should grow. the. fuck. up.

And seriously, if we want to end this so-called "racism," then we stop fucking talking about it. Move on. Let's bitch and moan about stuff that actually matters, not fabricated hot-button issues that are no longer as relevant in modern times.

Last time I checked, there were no longer "Whites Only" signs posted on public (and most private) property in this country.


So there.

And good day to you, sir.

3:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Spoken like a true racist, Mr. Anonymous who left the link to the definition of racist. You typed, “How, exactly, does this ad even remotely suggest that one culture is superior to another?” Joy B answered your question. But in case it’s not clear, I’ll elaborate. Black people in the U.S. have historically been told that their natural looks – especially natural hair styles like Afros – do not look good. The implication? The natural looks do not match or meet the popular standards (i.e., White standards). On top of this, Blacks have been told that they are not civilized – they are savages. Which also directly plays into this headline. So based on historical slights – which, sadly, continue to this day – it is easy to see where a sense of superiority is infused into this ad. Now, what makes this tricky is the fact that the creators of the ad are likely not racist. That is, they’re probably not sitting around their offices thinking they are superior to minorities. They are simply culturally clueless – ignorant to the historical and present-day implications of the message. But they did produce a message that many will deem as racist. And the offended are completely aware of the implications, and responding accordingly, by calling the ad racist. I’m sure none of this will make sense to you, but figured I’d try to answer your question, in the event that you really were curious.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Anonymous 2.

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the white male ad, they should have used Copyranter's head from his facebook profile pic.

8:33 PM  
Anonymous Amod said...

I don't think it's racist. A little lame maybe but not racist. Now if it was a black guy chucking a white guy's head, different story.

10:50 PM  
Blogger shaun. said...

"I don't see how any person of color couldn't see this & think, "So if my hair is natural, I'm uncivilized?"

as a black guy with natural hair....that's what i thought. its not racist but it is culturally insensitive. and just because there are other executions with different races, doesnt mean this one is ok.


10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You go on and enjoy being offended by advertising. I'll continue to enjoy reading your impassioned rebuttals to my comments with equally impassioned laughing fits.

Pip-pip, cheerio...ya' wanker!

11:28 AM  
Anonymous -1-T-M- said...

The only comments I would be interested to read are the ones from Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Orthodox Jews, Rastafarians, etc., etc.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Joy B said...

@ Pip, pip cheerio Anonymous.

:::sigh::: The point is not "being offended by advertising." The point is that if this ad offends the very people it's supposed to selling to, it's a bad ad.

This wasn't manufactured controversy to bring down Nivea. They paid to bring their product to our attention, and then included such a range of negative connotations in their ad that not only did they fail in making black folks want to buy this product, but they actually succeeded in making them avoid anything with Nivea's name altogether. Not to mention the call for all of their spokespeople of color to withdraw from their contracts with Nivea.

The problem belongs not to those offended, but to Nivea. And isn't that the point here? To do better with your advertising? Sell your product? Increase goodwill & awareness?

It really doesn't matter whether it's "racist" or not. It was done in poor taste relative to the target audience. The only loser in that fight is Nivea.

1:11 PM  
Blogger copyranter said...

I will say that it is just a terrible, terrible concept. I can't believe professionals actually created this ad.

1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Joy B

I agree with you in theory, but, in practice, advertising is far, far away from just selling products and increasing goodwill/awareness.

I've never worked on an ad where one of the main goals was to "increase goodwill." Then again, maybe I'm the one fooling myself. Every ad I ever put copy to was meant to make clients mo' money, mo' money, mo' money! Plain and simple.

PT Barnum was absolutely correct; "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Here we are ranting about an insensitive ad that was developed in poor taste/judgment. Consumers who are paying attention will likely also have a similar response.

But guess what? The controversy keeps the name Nivea top of mind and on the tip of consumers' tongues.

From that perspective and with respect your own assertion that ads should raise awareness (<-- the most elementary of advertising purposes) this ad has done its job...well.

The ad may not sell any products, but it sure as hell sold us a use for all our excess time. And I, for one, would like a refund.

Hey 'ranter! You owe me five minutes. And please, next time, only rant about ads that won't get your viewers' panties wadded up their bums. Then, I won't come off looking like your blog's lone racist.

Hey, guess what, 'ranter fans? I'm black. Deal.

1:45 PM  
Blogger E.B said...

Given how much of an issue natural hair is already for the black community, this is definitely latent racism. It may not be about hate, but it's insensitive and promotes nasty stereotypes.

It's disgusting enough that minorities still have fewer job opportunities, especially in white collar industries, and that afros still aren't considered "appropriate" for many professions. Add to that the particular language they used ("civilize") and this reeks of ignorance.

Black people had to fight for their civil rights. They were considered "uncivilized" by racist whites. Afros are still considered "uncivilized" in some circles. I'm white, and I would also be disheartened if I had to shave or relax my hair or wear a weave in order for my appearance to be considered "appropriate."

Had he had a scruffy beard or something instead of an afro, I might have given this a pass, though the language is still very problematic. So there you go. If you won't rant, Copyranter, I will!

3:45 PM  
Blogger Darrk man said...

As a Black man that is actually in the ad business I'm going to take a different tact with this ad. This ad is an example of everything wrong right now with the ad industry. Hear me out. We all know how many different people need to see an ad before its ever cleared to be placed. The fact that this ad made it all the way to print tells me that NO ONE Black ever saw the ad or got the chance to say "Hey...this will open a shitstorm".

Now many on here in our business will say that they're colorblind...but they're not. If they truly were they wouldn't ask me if I know someone at Essence when I put it on a print plan, or wonder why I refuse to run a WHITE MAKE UP ad in Ebony, etc etc. Really too many whites in this business are clueless because for the most part we keep hiring the same type of guy over and over again. Unfortunately that type of guy is the kind that doesn't notice that his industry is centered in a city that is 50% Black and Hispanic yet his agency won't have anyone of color that's client facing.

Until our industry sees what wrong with it and does more to really be diverse instead of justgiving lip service we'll see more ads like this Nivia one or more of the sassy talking Black vagina hands that Summer's Eve thought was so clever.

10:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the admission from the Anonymous who wrote: “Hey, guess what, ‘ranter fans? I’m black. Deal.” Gee, as if one’s race or ethnicity somehow makes his/her position more or less valid, more or less shocking, etc. Get over yourself, douche. A closed and narrow mind is a sign of ignorance regardless of your skin tone.

10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, for fuck's sake, can we move on?? I am getting annoyed. This blog has been known for its "racist" ads and ads featuring titties, female asses, etc. How about something different, for a change??? Surprise us, Ranter!

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Big Boss said...

Wrote my own piece about this on my blog. Here it is. I don't believe it's racist.

Due to very obvious reasons, race is a very sensitive issue in this country. Nowadays, however, it seems as though even the slightest misinterpretation or misunderstanding can give way to a nation-wide discussion on race. Most recently under fire was Nivea, for running an advertisement photo that displayed a cleanly shaved black male holding what appeared to be his own head, with an afro and a scruffy beard. The caption read, “re-civilize your self. Look like you give a damn”. It wasn’t long after that the NAACP and the rest of the PC brigade came along, like ever-opportunistic hyaenas, jumping at the chance to scream injustice, racism and I have a dream! Look, I don’t have any qualms with calling a spade a spade if racism is an apparent factor, despite what those who claim I believe racism doesn’t exist would lead you to believe. What I do take issue with, however, is inciting racial hostility and pointing the ‘you’re racist!’ finger at every teensy weensy little thing.

In Nivea’s case, I can see how such an ad can be misinterpreted as hateful, considering America’s past racial problems. Black Americans were often thought to be uncivilized, but whether this ad is racist or not is debatable at most. In my view, it’s racist only in the minds of those who choose to see the racism in everything.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not racist - it's just shite.

11:13 AM  

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