Rihanna slur triggers Nivea PR scramble

The new head of Nivea parent company Beiersdorf appears to have announced fresh marketing strategy to the German press before its international marketing and PR teams after telling a reporter that its brand ambassador, pop singer Rihanna, is a ‘no-go’ for the ‘family’ brand.

Nivea Rihanna Website

The recently hired chief executive of the German parent company, Stefan Heidenreich, told one of that country’s national newspapers, Welt: “Rihanna is a no go. I do not understand how to bring the core brand of Nivea in conjunction with Rihanna.”

He added: “Nivea is a company which stands for trust, family and reliability.”

The move appears to have caught Nivea marketing teams around the world unawares, with PR teams scrabbling for statements and clarification.

The popstar, whose alliance with the brand was unveiled last year, still features on the Nivea UK website, which calls her an ‘icon’ and a ‘sensation’.

In the US, the Nivea strapline is ‘touch and be touched’, and has images of couples kissing and caressing in bed, which would appear to complement the Rihanna song used in a Nivea ad, California King Bed, about a couple touching in bed.

Nivea’s long serving corporate and brands communications vice president Thomas Schönen left Beiersdorf soon after the arrival of Heidenreich a few months ago. The role is currently being handled by an interim corporate communications veteran Petra Rob.

In a statement, Beiersdorf denied it had fired Rihanna and claimed the contract had ended as planned at the end of 2011, but confirms the brand has changed its strategy to return to its ‘core values’ in 2012.

“In 2011 NIVEA worked with the artist Rihanna in the context of the brand’s 100th birthday anniversary campaign. From the beginning this music-cooperation was scheduled for one year and ended as planned at the end of 2011,” said a spokesperson.

“Within the future brand positioning NIVEA focuses more than ever on its core values. This leads to a change in advertising strategy as well as marketing campaigns. Beiersdorf and NIVEA thank Rihanna for her work in relation to the 100th birthday anniversary campaign and feel respect and sympathy for her as a person and artist.”

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