Saturday, April 7, 2018

Nivea Ad: 'White Is Purity' (2017)


Nivea is a German personal care brand that specializes in body care. Nivea is a world-wide known company that is under severe criticism due to an extremely racist ad that was published by their company website on The ad was published was on April 5, 2017 and was aimed for the customers of Nivea that reside in the Middle East. It first appeared on Facebook, but shortly after found itself on every major social media platform to this day. The ad showed a woman with her long-flowing hair riding over her white robe and her back to the camera, with the slogan on the bottom of the picture reading, "WHITE IS PURITY" written in all caps, emphasizing the meaning. In addition to this already extremely racist slogan, the original Facebook post by Nivea also read the caption of "Keep it clean, keep it bright. Don't let anything ruin it." 
Nivea Racist Ad 

Users of social media instantly attacked the ad for carrying a very racist intention. "What the HELL is this? White Purity? Shame, Shame, Shame on you," wrote Maria on Twitter. "Fire your marketing person and anyone who approved this ad" (Fox News). The extremely embarrassed company was quick to take down this ad after noticing an immense amount of backlash from not only their consumers but also millions of other individuals that were absolutely offended by this company's actions. Nivea removed this ad from all platforms over "concerns about ethnic discrimination." Following a few days after this intense outbreak of criticism, Nivea was forced into publicly apologizing for their ignorant actions. Their apology consisted of a company-wide statement saying, "We are deeply sorry to anyone who may take offense to this specific post. Diversity and equal opportunity are crucial values of Nivea" (Fox News). Nivea has found themselves in a very strenuous situation, and has been trying to recuperate ever since. 


A stakeholder is any individual or organization that is affected by the activities of a given business or company.  The major stakeholders that are affected by this racist ad are Nivea, Nivea's shareholders, and millions of other individuals who were personally affected by this racist ad. Nivea is a million dollar company and should know better than publishing an ad as racist as this one. Millions of individuals expressed their thoughts and opinions about this ad. Users of social media who have never even used Nivea once was still very affected by this ad. This ad caused a wide outbreak of scrutiny ranging from country to country. Individuals from all over the world were expressing their problems with this ad. Furthermore, shareholders were also affected because there was a decrease in sales directly tied to the release of this ad. Shareholders were pulling out of their shares because they believed that they would not make their money back due to no one wanting to continue to buy from Nivea. 
One of many complaints


Individualism believes in the idea that the only goal of a business is to profit, so the only obligation that the business person has is to maximize profit for the owner or the stockholders (Heather Salazar). An individualist would consider this case as being ethically permissible. Nivea had the intentions of reaching out to their consumers in the Middle East in hopes of expanding their business and consumer base, which would lead to more sales, transitioning to increasing profits.


The theory of Kantianism comes with four basic principles, to act rationally, to allow and help people make rational decisions, respect people, their autonomy, and individuals needs and differences, and finally, to be motivated by Good Will. From a Kantian point of view, Nivea's ad would be considered ethically impermissible. Nivea did not act rationally, or by their Good Will. Their ad was extremely racist and caused an immense amount of criticism and outbreak from millions of individuals. Nivea did not respect their customers or their autonomy.


Utilitarianism believes that "Happiness or pleasure are the only things of intrinsic value." As a utilitarian, Nivea's ad is considered to be ethically impermissible. There were no individuals that were happy because of this ad. Instead of them being happy, everyone was very angry with Nivea's actions. There was a surplus of criticism and complaints from a vast number of individuals. Consumers called for employees to be fired and Nivea to take action.

One of Nivea's products
Virtue Theory

The virtue theory directly focuses on the act itself and describes how this case would be considered unethical. The virtue theory consists of four main characteristics, courage, honesty, temperance, and justice. Nivea lacks all four of these basic characteristics. If Nivea were to focus more on fulfilling these characteristics, they wouldn't be in such an arduous situation as they are now.


     $1 = 64.1126 Indian rupeesRina Chandran @rinachandran. “RPT-FEATURE-Skin Lightening under Fire as Indians Seek Whiter Shade...” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 27 Apr. 2017,

     Dupuy, Beatrice. “What's with All These Companies Telling Black Women to Be White?” Newsweek, 18 Oct. 2017,  

      “Nivea Apologizes for 'White Is Purity' Ad.” Fox News, FOX News Network,

     Tsang, Amie. “Nivea Pulls 'White Is Purity' Ad After Online Uproar.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 4 Apr. 2017,

     Wang, Amy B. “Nivea's 'White Is Purity' Ad Campaign Didn't End Well.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 5 Apr. 2017,   

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