Nivea’s Active 3: Killing Three Birds with One Stone

Nivea’s 2009 advertisement for Active3 men’s shower gel boasts the ability to “SHAMPOO,” “SHOWER,” and “SHAVE” with only one product. This advertisement includes plenty of bold, white text but does not overwhelm the viewer with wearisome details about fragrance, ingredients, or texture. The advertisement’s succinct statements parallel the straightforwardness of the product meant for men who just want to “get more done”. With a simple “Nivea: For Men” logo in the top right corner and a picture of Active3 in the bottom right corner, Nivea’s brand becomes one to remember when purchasing future shower gels. Nivea also chose wisely to put this advertisement in GQ. According to Mega Media Marketing, 77% of GQ’s readers are male, and their median household income is $67,223. In addition, the average age of a male GQ reader is 32 (“Demographics"). With that demographic and GQ’s reputation as a magazine for gentlemen, Active3 establishes itself as the perfect product for any young male who wants to start their day quickly and without fuss.

Forget 2-in-1 men’s shampoo and body wash; Active3’s distinguishing feature is the ability for men to shave in the shower and only have to reach for one bottle. To emphasize its exclusivity, the word “Shave” in the ad is front and center and in a larger font than both “Shampoo” and “Shower,” which are placed at the top of the ad. This draws the focus more towards “Shave” because not only is it in the center and at eye level, but it is also the text that is least cluttered. For example, “Shampoo” cuts through the model’s hair and “Shower” is placed in slightly brighter lighting that makes the white text recede into the background, but “Shave” is in a perfect contrast setting, placed between the model’s arm and the razor with a slightly darker background. Nivea’s accentuation of the shave feature appeals to men who do not want to worry about which products to use and when. Furthermore, given the demographics of GQ, the ad could be suggesting that men who read GQ do not have time to waste on deciding on the different types of body care products they need to use when they have busy lives making an above average salary.

But the ability to kill three birds with one stone is not the only appealing aspect for the viewer. The setting, specifically the shower, promotes a certain type of lifestyle for people who may use Active3. The shower tile is a dark, blue-gray juxtaposed with clean, white grout, which is reminiscent of a color scheme for successful professionals, allowing the target audience to associate professionalism and success with the product. And, without too many bright colors or flashy lights, Nivea successfully conveys a sophisticated, masculine backdrop. Yet, the darker colors are not aggressive but a subdued, almost tranquil, blue. Thus, the setting reflects how a GQ reader might picture himself: cool and composed, as seen in the subdued blues, yet authoritative and masculine, which is evident in the dim, rather than vivid, colors. Nivea also ensures that the darkness is not grim or brooding by complementing it nicely with the model who is placed under a brighter light relative to the background, thus illuminating the center of the ad.

            In fact, the model illustrates more about the product than the text does by providing a visual demonstration of what Active3 is capable of and the type of “hip” person who would utilize it. He looks directly at the camera while flashing a playful grin, as if someone has caught him in the middle of a thoroughly engaging activity. The direct eye contact paired with the grin highlights how while the man may appear playful and relaxed, he still exudes authority and confidence. Even the grin has a dominating quality to it; a quick glance at his bared teeth can cause the reader to mistake the model’s smile as an intimidating snarl. This, however, is no mistake because much like the color scheme of the ad, the model reflects both authority and a type of carefree relaxation. The model looks more than satisfied while using Active3 with his relaxed shoulders and grin, which gives the impression that using Active3 is a thoroughly pleasurable experience for him. And by juxtaposing his appearance of dominance with an air of lightheartedness, the viewer is instilled with a sense of confidence in the efficacy of the product based on the model’s reaction. In fact, the viewer will want to purchase Active3 to feel as confident, carefree, and authoritative as the model appears.

Showcasing the model’s well-defined physique exemplifies the type of people who use Active3. He is clearly meant to be an attractive man, and highlighting his physical appeal – which, in the viewer’s mind, will be associated with potential sex appeal and dominance – makes the product more tempting. In other words, showing a “cool” and “contemporary” man use Active3 makes the viewer trust the product more, especially given the average age of a male GQ reader is 32. In addition, the viewer will in some ways want to see himself as the model: powerful yet approachable. Add to that the model’s warm and inviting smile, and the viewer can feel a sense of belonging with the other supposedly “cool” men who use Active3.

            The catchphrase that ties the whole ad together is listed in the bottom left corner: “What Men Want.” This brief proclamation exemplifies the stereotype that men care little about body care products so as to not appear effeminate or simply because they have more pressing matters to deal with. But the phrase also refers to the implicit messages in the advertisement that apply to most men. Men want to save time when getting ready and have little hassle, they want to feel masculine, and they want to exude confidence and a playful charm. By adding this seemingly unimportant phrase, Nivea creates a sense of inclusion for potential consumers because Nivea assures their target audience that other men like them want this too.


Works Cited

"Demographics."  Demographics . Mega Media Marketing. Web. 23 Jan. 2017. <>.