Home Advertising Wilton-based Beiersdorf splits with ad agency after alleged anti-gay remark

Wilton-based Beiersdorf splits with ad agency after alleged anti-gay remark

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Beiersdorf, the German company with U.S. headquarters in Wilton, has parted ways with its longtime advertising agency following an alleged homophobic comment made during a creative meeting.

According to an Ad Age report, Foote, Cone & Belding (FCB) decided not to renew its contract with Beiersdorf following the company’s rejection of a proposed advertising campaign for the Nivea lotion brand because the campaign included an image of two men holding hands. The meeting took place by telephone and a member of the Beiersdorf team reportedly nixed the idea by commenting, “We don’t do gay.” A creative employee of FCB who was part of the meeting is gay.

The Ad Age report did not identify which person at Beiersdorf made the alleged comment or when the meeting in question occurred. The publication obtained an internal FCB memo circulated in April stating the agency was ending its relationship with the Nivea brand at the end of this year, although the alleged incident was not cited in the memo. Nivea accounts for 1% of the agency’s global revenue, and the FCB-Nivea relation can be traced back by more than 100 years through predecessor companies.

However, Ad Age also cited unnamed sources that claimed the working relationship between FCB and Beiersdorf had been fraying for at least two years. Beiersdorf seemed to confirm this in a statement that noted it had been planning to “review Nivea’s current agency model” since the beginning of the year. Beiersdorf also refuted that it encouraged prejudicial comments or behavior from its workforce.

“We are an international company with more than 20,000 employees with very different genders, ethnicities, orientations, backgrounds and personalities worldwide,” the company said in its statement. “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. No form of discrimination, direct and indirect, is tolerated.”

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Phil Hall's writing for Westfair Communications has earned multiple awards from the Connecticut Press Club and the Connecticut Society of Professional Journalists. He is a former United Nations-based reporter for Fairchild Broadcast News and the author of 10 books (including the 2020 release "Moby Dick: The Radio Play" and the upcoming "Jesus Christ Movie Star," both published by BearManor Media). He is also the host of the SoundCloud podcast "The Online Movie Show," co-host of the WAPJ-FM talk show "Nutmeg Chatter" and a writer with credits in The New York Times, New York Daily News, Hartford Courant, Wired, The Hill's Congress Blog, Profit Confidential, The MReport and StockNews.com. Outside of journalism, he is also a horror movie actor - usually playing the creepy villain who gets badly killed at the end of each film.

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