In a series of blog posts, Nebbia CEO Martin Pecko threw himself into the uproar sparked by photographs posted on Nebbia Žilina’s Facebook page on February 3 that featured [black bodybuilder Dennis Johansen] alongside a white female model. Žilina is a city of about 85,000 people in northwestern Slovakia.
Comments on the photo quickly turned into a heated racial debate on immigration and multiculturalism, with some of the most disturbing comments describing the black athlete as “a monkey in clothes” and “a murderer.” One commenter promised to boycott the company, while another warned that the ad campaign would only “discourage” potential buyers, as majority-white Slovaks wouldn’t relate to it.
In May of last year, [Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico declared] that Islam “has no place in Slovakia,” arguing that Muslim migrants were “changing the character of the country” and eroding its Christian foundations.
“The person in our picture is our good friend Dennis. He’s European, just like you. [He] has a university degree, a figure that you’ll never have, and a beautiful wife at home (who is white and blond),” Pecko wrote in an entry from February 7 on the company’s blog.
As the first blog post only seemed to add fuel to the fire, Pecko then vowed to make good on his promise to refund disgruntled customers in full. However, the offer came with a catch: to receive compensation, outraged buyers would have to send their requests to firstname.lastname@example.org – a newly-set up email address that means “I am a racist” in Slovak.
Only that bit about Johansen having a white and blond wife could just make matters worse for the man.