Nivea has found itself at the centre of a Twitter (not the real world) storm this week with many twits promising to boycott them after they rejected an ad agency’s pitch for a campaign featuring a story intended to promote homosexuality. A poll on news.com.au suggests that 64% of people think this knee-jerk reaction is yet another sign that “the world has gone PC mad”.
Veteran advertising industry insiders are quietly chuckling at the millions of dollars of free PR this online controversy has conveniently given Nivea’s former ad agency after losing the Nivea account annually worth $400 million. There’s even some speculation that the agency may have sensed they were on the way out, and sought to capitalise with a cynical virtue-signalling exercise.
Statements from Nivea indicated it was the “right time for a new beginning” for their massive creative & ad budget, and that they understood emotions are intensified when a longtime business relationship comes to an end. They also affirmed their commitment to “diversity, mutual respect, equal opportunity and tolerance.”
PR experts confirm it’s entirely normal for a brand to target certain demographics and to decline to target others, yet it’s highly unusual for an ad agency to publicise what demographics their brand clients decline to target. Corporate virtue signalling (virtue posturing) has been on an observable rise since 2017. The term “pinkwashing” has long been used to describe the marketing ploy of appearing friendly to LGBTIQAX+ market segments.
Gillette engaged in “purplewashing” with its series of ads condescendingly explaining how men should behave, implying most men don’t already know. Their brand’s relationship with their biggest client, men, had also been suffering a decline thanks to new, more popular players like the Dollar Shave Club. Many saw this campaign not as a failed pitch for male customers, but an attempt to position their brand as more female friendly: purplewashing.
Many brands are polarising their customers by unnecessarily taking hard positions on controversial issues. I’ve personally dumped the Gillette brand razors because of their toxic social engineering. Now I’m switching shaving cream too from Gillette to Nivea, because Nivea obviously just wants to stick to business for a mass market instead of mixing it with politics for a very narrow-minded audience.
I just dumped @Gillette because of their patronising virtue signalling. Looks like @NiveaAustralia simply wants to do business not politics, so I'm going to take my money there. I need new shaving cream too! #IBuyNiveaNow #ConsumerActivism #BoycottGillette— Dave Pellowe 🇦🇺 (@DavePellowe) July 10, 2019