A clip from the beauty brand's new Natural Fairness moisturizer, which is being advertised our sisters in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal, has been circulating on the Intenet. Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi is featured on billboards using the product, and a television ad shows a Black model's skin turning a lighter shade after applying the product.
'Nivea can't get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. In the ad, graphic effects show the model's skin lightens as the lotion passes over it.
Many people reacted with horror to the ads when they were shared on social media yesterday.
The products are also popular in parts of east Asia.
Folks also pointed out that this is a complicated issue. Social media users were scathing, especially in Ghana where twitter users called for a boycott of all Nivea products and a removal of the campaign with the hashtag #pullitdownnow.
Now Nivea's new campaign has similar racial undertones. The Natural Fairness line's "natural ingredients and UV filters" were aimed at "reducing the sun-induced production of melanin", they went on to say.
This isn't the first time Nivea's ad campaigns have offended people of color.
Nivea has had their fair share of problematic advertising. Earlier this year we reported that the company dropped a questionable ad that equated "white" with "purity".
Nivea might have pulled the "white is purity" ad, but that hasn't stopped it from advertising the benefits of whiter skin. "ALL black skin is handsome, no exceptions, so celebrate us as we are instead of asking us to adhere to unattainable and racist ideals", she went on to say.
But in a statement, NIVEA said that the company develops products with the aim of helping consumers take care of their skin's health no matter their skin type.
About 75 per cent of women in Nigeria use skin-lightening products, with demand also high in Ghana, Senegal and Kenya, a report by the University of Cape Town said past year.