Skincare brand Nivea has come under intense scrutiny for an advertisement that shows a black woman applying the company’s “Natural Fairness” skin cream. As the woman caresses her skin with the product, her complexion is shown changing to a lighter shade as she boasts of her “visibly lighter” skin.
The advertisement has appeared in Africa and sparked outrage on social media, including calls by some for a boycott of Nivea. The TV spot and matching billboards have appeared in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal.
Former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi appears in the ad and says that “visibly fairer skin” makes her feel “younger.”
London entrepreneur William Adoasi decried the ad on Twitter: “This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can’t get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling.”
Many have accused Nivea’s ads of being racist.
The Nivea advertisement comes on the heels of a Dove spot that also ignited outrage. The Facebook ad was accused of being racist because it showed a black woman taking off a brown t-shirt to reveal a white woman in a beige t-shirt.
It wasn’t clear what Dove was trying to convey, but the company did issue an apology. The black model in the ad later said it was perceived as racist because it had been taken out of context and did not show the whole commercial, which depicted women of many skin colors changing into each other.
Some weren’t buying it, citing a previous Dove ad that could also be interpreted as being racist.