7/24/2015

90 Years of Blue and White – A Design Icon Is Born

Juan Gregorio Clausen portrait
Juan Gregorio Clausen in 1960

“We can’t change the wind, but we can adjust our sails.” This quote from the Greek philosopher Aristotle was also familiar to Juan Gregorio Clausen. After all, in his early job as a captain of a frigate, the former Director of Advertising at Beiersdorf managed to gather some experience dealing with stormy conditions. When Clausen “set sail” with Beiersdorf in 1920, the German company was marked by a deep post-war shock: starvation, unemployment and hyperinflation characterized daily life until 1923. For these reasons people only bought essential products. NIVEA Creme wasn’t one of them.

NIVEA SUN creme ad 1925
Changing lifestyles: NIVEA ad 1925

A New Zeitgeist

By the middle of the 1920s things were looking up again in what was then the German Reich. Hyperinflation had been stopped, starvation defeated and jobs created: the boom period of the “Golden Twenties” had begun in 1924. Clausen knew that the society had profoundly changed. “Youth” and “leisure” became the fashionable words of the time and skin that was tanned from time spent outdoors was the new symbol of beauty of the Weimar Republic. The art nouveau inspired design of the cream tin from the turn of the century was perceived as old-fashioned and was increasingly disregarded by women because the “new woman” was freer and more self-confident than during the time of the German Empire.

development of tins from 1911 to 1922 to 1925
The evolution of the NIVEA tin until 1925

From Green and Yellow to Blue

Probably inspired by sea and clouds, Juan Gregorio Clausen created a design icon with the color change of the cream tin in 1925. Fitting the avant-garde Bauhaus style of the Weimar Republic, which was marked by objective and functional representations, Clausen abandoned playful ornamentation and other visual eye-catchers and put only the brand and the product name in the center. The Director of the Ad Department wasn’t really risking much with the color scheme because the same color combination was used for the toothpaste PEBECO since 1905. Furthermore, under the NIVEA brand there were already some blue and white products like NIVEA Soap, NIVEA Complexion Powder and NIVEA Shaving Soap. So the color combination wasn’t new, but brought together with the objective representation it was a groundbreaking design development, the success of which spared the brand NIVEA from being renamed PEBECO.

NIVEA boys of 1923
The original concept from 1923, which Clausen used for the campaign

Adaptations the Advertising

But the success of the new design is also thanks to creative advertising campaigns. With “NIVEA Boys” Clausen considered a campaign that was first tested in the local newspaper environment around Hamburg and then in February 1924 run nationwide. What was new about the campaign was the lightness and joy in the presentation of the three young Berlin brothers. There was nothing artificial or stylistically overloaded about it. The ad campaign was a perfect match for the fresh and new design of the cream tin. Consequently, in 1925 the “NIVEA Boys” were used to advertise the cream as well, after they were originally only going to be used for the soap. The NIVEA brand developed a fresh image with the uniform language of product and advertising. The focus was on familial relationships, but also on authenticity and joy. With that, NIVEA Creme became a successful brand product – 14 years after it went on sale. Clausen became one of the most important people in Beiersdorf history with these groundbreaking decisions proving that early advertising that adapts to social conditions can lead to phenomenal success.

Press Contact

Corporate Communications
Beiersdorf AG
Unnastrasse 48
20245 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: +49 (0) 40 - 4909 2001

Email