Nivea has retracted and apologized for an advertising campaign in the Middle East that many people said was racist and had been co-opted by white supremacists online.

The ad for company's "invisible" deodorant shows a dark-haired woman from behind, with the words "White is purity" appearing on top of her.

Reaction on social media was swift, with many accusing the company of overt and subversive racism by implying white supremacy.

Nivea, owned by German personal care conglomerate Beiersdorf AG, quickly pulled the ad and apologized to its followers online.

The "post was not meant to be offensive," the company told its social media followers. "We apologize. It's been removed. NIVEA values diversity and tolerance."

While many people criticized the campaign, it was embraced by white supremacists in the alt-right community online.

It's not the first time the company had veered into controversy with an ad campaign. In 2011, Nivea faced a similar backlash for an ad campaign that featured an image of a black man and the words "re-civilize yourself" while touting the company's skin care products.