FCB is one of the largest advertising agencies in the world, representing some of the biggest brands today, ranging from Coca-Cola to Levi’s to Nivea skincare.
In a leaked internal memo written by FCB CEO Carter Murray, the agency says it will be terminating its account with the skincare company at the end of 2019, when its contract expires.
According to Ad Age, it all started when the brand rejected an image FCB pitched depicting two men’s hands touching.
In a call with FCB creatives, a rep from Nivea, which is owned by the Hamburg, Germany-based company Beiersdorf, allegedly said, “We don’t do gay at Nivea,” unaware that one of the people they were talking to was gay.
In the leaked memo, which is marked “strictly confidential,” Murray explains to staff: “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.”
“Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.”
Murray goes on to say that the decision to part ways came after “much reflection and discussion on our creative ambitions” and that he hopes FCB employees will “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 Murray’s memo, other Beiersdorf brands, including Eucerin and Hansaplast, will remain under contact with FCB. But not Nivea. Because, evidently, they don’t “do gay.”
In a statement, Beiersdorf says the decision for Nivea to part ways with FCB was due to “profound transformation of our industry and the advertising landscape,” adding:
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. No form of discrimination, direct and indirect, is tolerated.
Since the document leaked, FCB has declined to issue any further comment on the matter.