Metro Weekly

Ad agency cuts ties with Nivea after executive allegedly says “we don’t do gay”

FCB reportedly cut ties with Nivea in April after the alleged homophobic incident and amid rising tensions between the companies

Photo: Nikolai Karaneschev / Wiki Commons

A major advertising firm will reportedly part ways with Nivea over alleged homophobic comments during a pitch meeting.

Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) will not renew contracts with Nivea after the company allegedly rejected an advertisement showing two men touching hands, Ad Age reports.

According to their sources, a member of the Nivea team said “we don’t do gay at Nivea.”

The meeting, which took place by phone, was reportedly attended by an FCB creative employee who is gay.

In an internal company memo in April, FCB announced that it would not be seeking to renew global contracts with Nivea after they expired at the end of the year.

Ad Age‘s sources didn’t confirm when the alleged pitch meeting incident took place, but noted that tensions between FCB and Nivea had been increasing for the past two years.

FCB Global CEO Carter Murray did not mention the anti-gay allegations in his memo, instead saying that the decision came after “much reflection and discussion on our creative ambitions.”

“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,” Murray wrote. “Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.”

“It is my hope that in reflecting on the incredible journey we’ve had with Nivea around the world and in your markets, you take pride in what we accomplished together and come to respect the many difficult factors we had to carefully weigh to take this step.”

According to Ad Age, the various agencies that now comprise FCB have worked with Nivea for over a century.

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,” but did not directly address the allegations of a homophobic comment.

Instead, the company said it would not tolerate any form of discrimination, and that the alleged comments don’t reflect the company’s values.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“Nonetheless we wish to express our concern on the reported allegations as they do not reflect the values of Beiersdorf, Nivea and our employees worldwide,” they comitnued. “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 spokesperson added: “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.”

FCB has yet to comment on the allegations.

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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