#FCBGlobal

Nivea CEO – “we don’t do gay”

LGBTQ Nation has reported that Nivea CEO rejected a campaign from its ad agency – FCB Global – which involved two men holding hands with the words, “we don’t do gay at Nivea.” This has led to a social media backlash showing offended users binning their products in protest. The laugh is that the advertising agency wants to dictate to the client how it runs its business. Nivea just doesn’t wish to promote “woke.” A choice that it should be entitled to make, just as Nike or Gillette are.

Nobody asked in what context “we don’t do gay” were said? Was it in reaction to the disastrous Gillette (note P&G reports Q4 results on July 30th) campaign on toxic masculinity? Did Nivea merely not want to reference specific minorities where it didn’t feel sufficient market gaps or opportunities would be found or was it a venom filled homophobic tirade? CM is willing to bet it was the former. Some corporations don’t wish to mix politics with product.

Nivea got in hot water in 2017 when it promoted a skin lightening cream in Africa. After much success with such products in Asia (where lighter skin is deemed more beautiful and brands make a fortune selling cosmetics based on this) it tested the African market. Unfortunately it got into hot water despite demand. The skin whitening industry was $10bn in 2009 and expected to grow to over $23bn by 2020.

Should Nivea be bashed for supplying products to a market demand that clearly exists? If Africans wish to lighten their skin, shouldn’t that just be a question for that individual? No one is forcing Africans to use their products. Nicole Amartefio is rightly proud of her skin hue so she can choose, like many others, not to buy into the ‘insecurity.’ If Nivea sales tank, they can blame the marketing department for inadequate due diligence.

Maybe CM should protest the sunscreen market for heightening insecurities over skin cancer because whites have less melanin? Do people realise that sunglasses lower the risk of tanning because the eyes regulate melanin production based off the glare the eyes receive? Why doesn’t Nivea promote the use of sunglasses instead of selling expensive sunscreen?

However this is where the Nivea story gets stupid.

FCB Global has been Nivea’s as agency for over 100 years yet its CEO Carter Murray said it intends to end the relationship with Nivea at the end of the contract.

FCB is within its rights to bin a century of business development but if the client wants to follow a mainstream campaign rather than get woke, surely isn’t it Nivea’s prerogative to do so? Does it require Nivea to meticulously follow the social diktat of its service providers? Who does FCB Global think it is? Why does it seek to throw its client under the bus? So much for respecting a century old client relationship.

LGBTQ Nation argues that one of the agency staff who proposed the campaign was indeed gay himself. Presumably he was offended.

Sadly Nivea felt the need to make an irrelevant statement to defend something completely unnecessary,

We are an international company with more than 20,000 employees with very different genders, ethnicities, orientations, backgrounds and personalities worldwide…Through our products, we touch millions of consumers around the globe every day. We know and cherish  that individuality and diversity in all regards brings inspiration and creativity to our society and to us as a company.”

Do consumers honestly ask themselves how “woke” every brand they buy? It is not dissimilar to ANZ preaching about Maria Folau. Is that in the forefront of the 5 million customers it serves? That is not even taking into account the hypocrisy of a bank which was admonished by the Hayne Royal Commission for unethical behaviour.

If Nivea believe that advertising to the LGBT community is a winner, let it decide because it has far better information than FCB Global about markets, products and segmentation. It shouldn’t feel guilty. Subaru America ran a campaign that targeted the lesbian community. Clearly the brand felt its market position had to differentiate away from the monsters of Toyota and Honda.

Talk about FCB Global cutting off its nose to spite its face. Expect its business to be affected more than Nivea. #GetWokeGoBroke . Interested to see how Gillette’s Q4 trend has been since the disastrous Q3 when P&G reports.

The moral of the story is to let the free market weigh Nivea’s decisions. It hasn’t called for anything other than defending how it serves its client base. Nivea parent company, Beiersdorf AG, has not experienced a share price backlash.