Racial Elements in Nivea's 'Re-Civilize Yourself' Ads

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Samoel Haile
English 1102
Professor Adams
02/11/13
In August of 2011, Nivea started a “giving a damn” about your looks campaign that focused on body shave. In an ad that ultimately referred to African American men with overgrown hair and facial hair “uncivilized”, the racy ad sparked major controversy over the true intentions of the advertisement. The ad depicts an African American man with a clean cut and casual clothing holding what looks to be the head of another African American with an afro and beard. As if every black man with an afro and beard were uncivilized, Nivea seemed to state that the re-civilization of the black man was in order by means of a haircut and a clean shave. With “Re-civilize yourself” in white letters in the center of the ad and the savage look on the head of the African America, drawing the conclusion the underlying meaning of the ad seems to be that Nivea was directly relating Black men with savagery and barbarianism. No rational person today would debate that the African American race has been dealt their fair share of unfair treatment by the media. With this Nivea ad coming to light, it was the question of everyone who took offense to the ad why the word “Re-civilize” was used when portraying the African American man. Grabbing a magazine reader’s attention with the words would prove to be an effective ad campaign strategy, but regardless of whether Nivea was aware that “Re-civilize” was an inappropriate term to use is beyond us. Seeing how the negative connotations of the word seem even more emphasized when paired with an African American individual. What may seem as an innocent campaign ad for body shave at first, can be dissected and proven to have rather racial aspects to it that are offensive to the many it may relate to. In the words of the late great Jim Morrison, “Whoever controls the media, control the mind.” The media seems to make matters worse when Nivea released a second ad days later that showed a Caucasian man...
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