Beiersdorf commemorates the 150th birthday of NIVEA’s founding father Oscar Troplowitz – Hamburg‘s Kunsthalle hosts exhibition

  • Troplowitz the entrepreneur: from laboratory to global corporation
  • Troplowitz the brand pioneer: use of  modern design and advertising
  • Troplowitz the philanthropist:  committed to social issues

Hamburg, January 17, 2013 – Oscar Troplowitz wasn’t just one of the first men to introduce product branding in Germany, he also invented NIVEA Creme and is one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs of his age. As a parliamentarian, Troplowitz supported social reform. He was a modest philanthropist, a far-sighted collector and a generous patron of the arts. Troplowitz acquired the Beiersdorf laboratory, which manufactured medical plasters, in 1890 and transformed it into a flourishing global company with an international reputation. On January 18 it would have been his 150th birthday.

Pharmacist Troplowitz proved to be a pioneer with exceptional business acumen who established design awareness as a factor of success through Beiersdorf. He built up the company’s export business, developed innovative products and pro-actively marketed them. Yet despite being a successful entrepreneur, he always put his employees and customers first. As a result of his commitment to social issues and generosity Troplowitz was able to establish a very positive working climate that fostered mutual respect. Even today Troplowitz’s initiatives still shape the Beiersdorf corporate culture and many things at the company still have his ‘signature’ on them.

The company headquarters are still located in Hamburg-Eimsbüttel on a piece of land purchased by Troplowitz in 1892. Many of the products and brands that Troplowitz developed can still be found on the shelves of retail outlets today. In 1896 he developed the first technical adhesive tape. However, it didn't conquer the market under the brand name of Tesafilm until 40 years later. In 1901 Troplowitz developed the Leukoplast medical tape, followed by the Labello lip balm in 1909. In 1911 Troplowitz invented NIVEA, the most famous of all Beiersdorf brands. This white emulsion and moisturizing cream helped Beiersdorf to conquer the cosmetics market.

Troplowitz was one of the first manufacturers to professionally market and present his products. Two of the designs he developed back then, which were way ahead of their time, were the push-up case for the Labello stick and the typical round NIVEA tin. Graphic artist Lucian Bernhard and lithographer Hans Rudi Erdt developed the first advertising images and posters for Beiersdorf, paving the way for the brand’s modern identity.

Troplowitz also revolutionized the world of work by introducing social benefits for his employees. As a member of the Hamburg Legislative Assembly and an employer committed to social issues, he initiated many employee reforms. He set up a welfare fund for employees who faced financial hardship and a pension, widows and orphans fund that still exists today. He reduced the working week from 60 to 48 hours and introduced holiday pay and free lunches.

Troplowitz was always passionate about the fine and applied arts. At his villa on the Outer Alster lake he had an impressive collection of contemporary art, including masterpieces by Picasso, Corot, Renoir, Sisley and Liebermann which he bequeathed to the Hamburg Kunsthalle. The Hamburg Kunsthalle is celebrating the 150th birthday of NIVEA’s founding father by exhibiting the main works in his collection. The exhibition runs from January 18 to June 30, 2013.  Entitled “Ein Leben für Hamburg – Oscar Troplowitz“ (A Life for Hamburg - Oscar Troplowitz), it provides insights into his life as far-sighted entrepreneur, significant patron of the arts and dedicated politician. 

Press Contact

Cora von Meysenbug
Head of Corporate Communications
Brands & Supply Chain

Beiersdorf AG
Unnastrasse 48
20245 Hamburg, Germany  

Phone: +49 (0) 40 - 4909 2001