AWARE Singapore slams Nivea for playing up women's insecurities

Women’s rights group AWARE Singapore has slammed Nivea for its latest ad.

The three minute ad depicts the perils of a modern day woman who was caught in awkward social situations due to her dark underarms. The ad has been shared over 383 times since it was posted on 28 February on Facebook and caught the attention of AWARE yesterday following a number of consumers slamming the brand for the ad.

“Apparently having the 'wrong' colour of armpit makes you unfit to interact with other human beings. This is supposedly humour - but is promoting shame and insecurity about our bodies a laughing matter?” said AWARE in its Facebook page.

Take a look at the ad:

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Speaking to Marketing, Jolene Tan, programmes and communications senior manager at AWARE Singapore said that advertisers should be responsible in using their power to shape public perceptions.

"It is damaging to shame women for their bodies, and arguably racially insensitive to treat skin colour as a problem that needs fixing.  From a commercial point of view, it also backfires, as consumers feel insulted.  It was a displeased member of the public who drew our attention to this ad, and many more have left critical comments," said Tan.

In an earlier conversation with Marketing  Tan also highlighted that many ads in Singapore explicitly rely on damaging and insulting stereotypes about women. She added that it was common knowledge that most images of women used in advertising were heavily airbrushed or edited to conform to a “rigid view” of what female bodies and faces should look like.

(Read also our master report on marketing to women)

Meanwhile, responding to one user who criticised the ad for stereotyping women’s attractiveness, Nivea said:

“We agree with you that what constitutes an attractive woman stems from more than just physical features, and what we’re trying to do here is to use humour to bring awareness to an issue many women feel less than confident about, and to provide a solution.

The brand added on that it used “exaggerated humour” in this video to present a problem-solution ad and apologized for offending the public.

However, not everyone was quick to criticize Nivea. Several members of the public found the ad effective and humorous.

Marketing has reached out to Nivea for a statement.

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