In a bold move, an ad agency has dumped Nivea as a client after one of the company’s staff members allegedly asserted that “we don’t do gay.”
Ad Age reports that, according to an internal memo, advertising agency FCB told its staff that it would not apply to renew its contract with Nivea when it comes to an end later in the year.
It’s been claimed the decision followed a proposal by the agency to use an image of two men’s hands touching in a campaign. It’s alleged that a representative from Nivea rejected the image in a phone call to an FCB creative, saying that “We don’t do gay at Nivea.”
“There comes a point in every longterm relationship when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished together and set your sails for where your journey will take you next,” wrote FCB Global CEO Carter Murray in the memo. “Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.”
Nivea was founded in 1882 and is owned by the Hamburg-based Beiersdorf Global AG. The company has responded to the reports, telling Campaign that “we don’t comment on unsubstantiated speculations around this matter.”
A spokesperson added, however, that: “We wish to express our concern on the reported allegations as they do not reflect the values of Beiersdorf, Nivea and our employees worldwide. 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 is shared and lived throughout Beiersdorf.”
The response hasn’t sated online anger over the allegation, with many in the LGBTQ community calling for a boycott of the Nivea brand.
American actor and activist George Takei tweeted: “Nivea was shown an ad proposal from their agency that had two men touching hands. Their response? ‘We don’t do gay at Nivea.’ Well, sorry, but from here forward, we gays and our friends don’t do Nivea.”
Chris McCrudden added: “Given that this is the brand that did a ‘whiteness is purity’ ad a couple of years ago, colour me not surprised.”
The furore is on the heels of international Pride month in June, which has seen a growing number of companies and brands releasing Pride-linked campaigns and product.