If the advertising profession had its own equivalent of the Hippocratic oath, it would go something like this: “First, do not offend the person whose money you’re trying to get.” This being America, you could safely add “…especially with anything that might come across as racist or racially insensitive, since we’re all hyper-attuned to that kind of thing over here.”
Somehow, though, the handsomely compensated geniuses of Madison Avenue keep having trouble satisfying that rather simple-sounding mandate. The latest failure is an ad from Nivea instructing its target consumer, a notional black male, to “Re-Civilize Yourself” by trimming his bushy hair and shaving off his beard. Hmm, where have we heard language like that before? Oh, that’s right: 400 years of colonialism and slavery. Beiersdorf USA, which owns Nivea, has apologized for the ad, created by Draftfcb.