Nivea issued a statement on Facebook on Oct. 18 saying the “campaign is in no way meant to demean or glorify any person’s needs or preferences in skin care.” 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. While reminding consumers that their product ranges embrace diversity, the Facebook post showed no real acknowledgement of the racial insensitivity of the ad.

This isn’t the first time Nivea’s ad campaigns have offended people of color. In 2011, Nivea was forced to apologize for advertisement that saw a black man discarding an Afro, with the tagline “re-civilize yourself.” The embarrassment from that incident seemed short lived as Nivea once again released a racially insensitive advertisement. Earlier this year, Nivea directed a deodorant ad to its Middle East customers with the tagline “White is purity.”

Nivea might have pulled the “white is purity” ad, but that hasn’t stopped it from advertising the benefits of whiter skin. In the Philippines, Nivea’s Extra Whitening Cell Repair & Protect Body Milk offers “fair skin” even after exposure to sunlight. There is also a range of other Nivea products in the Philippines promising to whiten skin.

The product range and advertising seems contradictory for a brand that has previously embraced various skin tones. Just as Dove has celebrated ethnic diversity with its “real beauty” campaigns, Nivea has advertised to all skin types and has fielded singer Rihanna as the face of their brand.

Nivea could have advertised for clearer skin, or an even skin tone, or just plain healthier skin, which would all be less racially charged. It appears that Nivea is cynically tapping into the same insecurity that boosts skin-bleaching sales in emerging markets.

“We recognize the concerns raised by some consumers regarding a Nivea product communication in Ghana and take them very seriously,” a spokeswoman for Beiersdorf told Quartz on Oct. 19, reiterating the company’s commitment to diversity. “Our intention is never to offend our consumers.”

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