Culture Jam Assignment – Nivea “White is Purity” Advertisement

The advertisement I have selected for my cultural jam is an image from an online campaign released by German personal care brand Nivea for their invisible deodorant line. Depicted at the center of the original advertisement is a woman wearing what appears to be a white blouse or robe. She is sitting on what appears to be a bed in a very bright room facing a window. We can’t see the lady’s ethnicity however with her hair style we are led to infer that there is a good chance she is a white woman. The color of the window she is facing is also a bright white and the flowers and the pot they sit in on the window sill are white as well. The caption on the image simply reads “WHITE IS PURITY” in the classic NIVEA Blue. The advertisement was released in late March 2017 through the Nivea Facebook along with a following sentence “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it, #Invisible”. The ad was supposed to target Nivea’s audience in the middle east and was removed after it received justified backlash for its message.

This advertisement is very problematic as it champions a White-Supremacist ideal – “White is always Purity”.  Being a company that sells a product related to skin care and physical appearance, Nivea wields a vast amount of power in what our perception of beauty and appearance is. Sending a message that insinuates white is best or is the standard for what should be considered pure or acceptable. It is extremely dismissive of the beauty that lies within all the other races and sends a flawed message that it is not alright to be anything other than white, one that harkens to Hitler’s ideologies.

Presented below, you can see my newly Jammed version of the advertisement:

As presented in the jammed version of the advertisement presented above, there are two major changes that have been made to make an attempt to subvert the negative message spread in the original version of the advertisement. The first was to get rid of the problematic caption that implies white supremacy. By getting rid of this, you have a bright room filled with the colour white which is naturally associated with Nivea, however you have no statements insinuating that white is the form of purity or superiority. Also, by doing this you don’t put subconscious pressures on other races or people viewing the add to feel less than or disregarded just because of the colour of their skin. This edit doesn’t take anything away from the intended message of the advertisement. By including a positive phrase such as ‘Start your day out right with NIVEA’ the company is still able to appropriately advertise their product without being dismissive and offensive. The second edit in the jam was to add some blue colour to the window sills. This was to reinforce the idea that white isn’t necessarily the alpha form or race. By adding a bit of a different colour to change the narrative set out by the advertisement, I believe Nivea can begin to change alter the negative story that was being previously told.