Homophobic comments were uttered on a phone conference call between Nivea and advertising agency Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) that was reportedly attended by a gay Nivea employee. The comments were in response to a proposed advertisement that featured two men holding hands.
Nivea is a world-leader in skincare based in Germany and produces a variety of skin creams, shower gels, tanning lotions, and other beauty products.
The controversial comments have led to a decision from FCB, Nivea’s advertising agency for over a century, to end their partnership with Nivea. The account between the company will expire without renewal at the end of the year. It is very rare for an advertising agency to end a lucrative contract such as the one FCB has with Nivea.
The decision to end the relationship was announced internally within FCB with a memo sent out to staff.
In the memo, Chief executive at FCB Carter Murray wrote, “There comes a point in every long-term relationship when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished together and set your sails for where your journey will take you next. Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.”
The chief executive’s email urged staff to “respect the many difficult factors we had to carefully weigh to take this step.”
In a statement to Campaign US, a spokesperson for Beiersdorf AG — Nivea’s parent company — said that it was the “right time for a new beginning in Nivea’s brand management and creative work.”
Comments did not directly confirm or deny “we don’t do gay” comments, but rather emphasised that the company does not tolerate discrimination.
The spokesperson continued: “We understand that emotions and news interest are intensified when a longtime business relationship comes to an end — however, we ask for understanding that we don’t comment on unsubstantiated speculations around this matter.
“No form of discrimination, direct and indirect, is or will be tolerated. We are strongly committed to diversity, mutual respect, equal opportunity, and tolerance — this stance and belief are shared and lived throughout Beiersdorf.
“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.”
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