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or those who want to go back to the basics and principles of marketing in order to reach success (within marketing), I’ve analyzed Nivea as the first brand which used advertising to become the successful brand it is today. In order to do so, we have to take a look first at the history of Nivea (as a brand) and how their first advertising campaigns have had an impact on the public.

This article should offer you a different perspective of a more simple consumer base that’s less demanding and easier to attract compared to today. However, it would be best if you also kept in mind that at the start of the 20th century, the poverty rate was a lot higher than what it is today, so the consumer base that could afford products such as moisturizing cream was a lot lower.

  • In that period of time, such a product was seen as a more luxurious product rather than as a basic product as it’s presented in the market today.
  • The concentration market (from my analyses) during the 1920s was nonexistent — therefore, penetrating foreign markets and making a big success as a company was very easy as long as you had the knowledge and required resources.
  • One last point before we get into it: Advertising in that period of time was very basic, and I believe Nivea can be seen as a pioneer in the development of proper advertising.

The History of Nivea

The original founder of the company owning the Nivea brand is Paul Beiersdorf, who founded Beiersdorf in 1885 as the first company to offer skincare products at more affordable prices.

Founder of the Beiersdorf company

The creator of the Nivea cream was Dr. Oscar Troplowitz, who was a dermatologist that had seen a need within the consumers of the time (mainly female) for a cream to offer a moisturizing effect and overall offer better care for the skin.

Dr. Oscar Troplowitz

Suprisingly enough, this was one of the few founders who decided to not name his product after his surname, which I think is ingenious, in this case, as his name wouldn’t have been very attractive to the market. Not to dismiss Dr. Oscar Troplowitz’s potential, but take a look at my second name — I don’t imagine a product named Troplowitz would do very well within any market.

From a marketing perspective, I don’t see it as very wise to name a product (brand) after yourself, as it may not be attractive to the market.

Now before you argue with me in the comment section, let’s have a small exercise.

When purchasing a product (in this case, a moisturizing cream) what sounds more attractive and appealing to you: Nivea or Troplowitz?

I’d imagine some of you’d say Troplowitz, which is fine, as we all have different tastes, but if I were to do quantitative research, I’m certain most of you would’ve chosen Nivea.

The name Nivea, itself, has just grown within the market, and I’m not saying that Troplowitz (as a brand name) wouldn’t have brought success for the name holder, but from a marketing perspective, the success wouldn’t have been on the same scale.

Nivea Creme’s first tin from 1911 (in German)

In 1911, the German company Beiersdorf released a cosmetic cream based on Eucerit, a revolutionary emulsifier. The cream was simply called Nivea, from the Latin niveus/nivea/niveum, meaning white as snow.

Nivea cream was presented in 1911 to the amateur public cosmetics in a yellow box with Art Nouveau motifs specific to the period. It contained Eucerit, an emulsifying agent discovered by chemist Isaac Lifschütz after decades of research.

Eucerin Patent Dr. Issac Lifschutz

It followed almost a century of history in which fairy-tale cream became a landmark in the world’s cosmetic industry. In the early 20th century, Nivea relied heavily on the advantages that advertising brings, with the observation that advertisements have changed over the years depending on how the woman was perceived at one time or another.

But enough with the product itself and it’s creation — let’s look at what’s more important, which is how the first ad for this product was created.

The First Proper Advert

The brain of the first Nivea commercial was Hans Rudi Erdt, a renowned German graphic artist and plastic artist.

In 1912, he created a poster with a suggestive message: “Like a woman among the stars.” This was the first advertisement in Nivea’s history (this is the same advert seen as the first image below the title of the article).

Nivea-Creme advert: “Like a woman among the stars”

He was on the lookout for a female that’d have perfect skin and could be the embodiment of the brand and the potential the product has.

In the early years of the product, but also in the years that followed the First World War, Nivea followed the conventions: Its promotional posters depicted delicate, diaphanous women, like a drink that’s refreshing.

The advert, itself, portrayed the potential the product has in showing the beauty that can be reached by female consumers if they use Nivea cream over a long period of time.

In parallel, in 1925, a great competition was launched to find Nivea girls, where the Nivea girl doesn’t have to be the beautiful ball — but a young woman with a healthy, clean, and fresh appearance.

Nivea Girls in 1925

In line with the new direction of promotion, the advertising posters no longer present elegant women at home in the booth — but women who enjoy life in the light and the sun. And before and during the Second World War, the promotion of Nivea products partnered with Elly-Heuss Knapp, Germany’s future first lady.

With this advert, Nivea wanted to show you don’t need to be a model to have perfect-looking skin — any girl that uses Nivea cream can have beautiful-looking skin. And with the consumer market at the time, this was just like selling ice cream to little kids. The cream was bought like hot bread, and soon it reached production and exportation on an international scale, which meant there was a need for better marketing.

Advertising the Actual Product

After the first advert created in 1911/1912, Nivea tried a different and more conventional (at the time) type of advertising to see how it’d impact the market.

This advert meant actually advertising the product — through a tube cream as that’s what creams came in at the time.

Nivea-Creme 1912 advert

For the time being, advertising was more physical and communicative, portraying the actual product or service promoted.

In the end, Nivea realized this advert was obsolete in comparison with their first advert, an advert with a beautiful girl showing the results and capabilities of the product itself. Therefore, the next year, in 1913, they went back to advertising the product to a more specific market segment: mothers.

Nivea soap, cream, and powder advert, 1913

This was another innovative advert that discovered a whole new level of marketing.


Well, it’s advertising three different products to two different market segments.

Even in 2020, this is very difficult to do, and it’s even more difficult to achieve success. But back in 1913, they achieved major success.

The two segments were mothers and their children. All three products (soap, cream, and powder) could be used by both, if not most, market segments. Therefore, it incentivized the customer to buy the product in bulk containers if they lived with other members within or from a different market segment.

By doing all this, Nivea really upped the advertising game and developed marketing on a whole new level.

Even with upcoming competitors, Nivea was set for a long life of success for bringing innovation — not only within the skin-care industry but also on a global level — with its innovative marketing.

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