Prominent advertising agency FCB [Foote, Cone & Belding] has announced that it has parted ways with client Nivea after a 100-year working relationship.
According to AdAge, the split had been a long time coming, but was brought to a head when the popular skincare brand rejected a proposed commercial, which included two men touching hands, by saying: "We don't do gay at Nivea".
The comments were allegedly made during a conference call, with the openly gay creative behind the proposal present.
“There comes a point in every long term relationship when you reflect on what you’ve accomplished together and set your sails for where your journey will take you next,” FCB’s CEO Carter Murray said.
“Sometimes that journey ahead demands tough choices that lead down different paths.”
He continued, saying the decision was made following “much reflection and discussion on our creative ambitions.”
A spokesperson for Beiersdorf, the company which owns Nivea, told Campaign US that the company would not be commenting on “unsubstantiated speculations” around the incident.
The spokesperson continued: "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.
"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. 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.
"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."
Social media users were quick to weigh in on the report, with actor George Takei expressing his frustration.
"Nivea was shown an ad proposal from their agency that had two men touching hands," Takei tweeted. "Their response? 'We don’t do gay at Nivea.' Well, sorry, but from here forward, we gays and our friends don’t do Nivea."