Consumers in South Africa have hit out at the retailer, which posted an advert of the Unilever-owned brand’s advert showing ‘racist stereotypes’ of African hair
Protesters have hit out at South African beauty retailer Clicks over a ‘racist’ Tresemmé advert posted on its website.
The marketing campaign issued by the Unilever-owned brand’s South African team shows a white woman with blonde straight hair captioned ‘normal hair’, compared with a black woman’s afro hair labelled ‘frizzy and dull hair’.
Members of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party led protests outside a number of Clicks stores, including chaining shop doors shut.
Twitter hashtags have also been been deployed by the group including #clicksmustfall and #shutdownclicks.
Prior to protesting, the EFF took to Twitter to express its disappointment over the advert.
The statement read: “The Economic Freedom Fighters notes the disgusting racist advert put out by pharmaceutical outlet Clicks, which displays the hair of Black women as inferior to that of white women.
“It is inexplicable that this imagery can be portrayed, one which reinforces the racist narrative of the abnormality of blackness as opposed to whiteness as standard.”
It continued: “Anti-black racism through the use of the politics of hair has been a benchmark of discrimination against black people across society and through oppressive histories.
“The transgression that Clicks has made goes far beyond a simple advert, rather, it represents a cornerstone of anti-black racism which manifests itself through the disregarding of black identity.”
EFF Statement On Racist Clicks Advert pic.twitter.com/zVp8bwLY62— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) September 4, 2020
CIC @Julius_S_Malema has been to all Clicks outlets in Polokwane.— Economic Freedom Fighters (@EFFSouthAfrica) September 7, 2020
The EFF will ensure no Clicks store operates for the next five days unless our demands are met. #clicksmustfall pic.twitter.com/EjcAp8f4VW
The group also said Clicks had committed a human rights violation by displaying the advert.
However, the Democratic Alliance political party has countered the EFF’s move and laid charges against the EFF and its President, Julius Malema, for “petrol bombing, burning and destroying” Click’s stores.
Today we lay charges against Julius Malema and the EFF for incitement of violence and destruction of property. We call on SAPS to do their job and protect the citizens of this country.— Democratic Alliance (@Our_DA) September 7, 2020
The EFF are destroying the livelihoods of thousands of #Clicks employees.
Enough is Enough! pic.twitter.com/Xs6lsjb3J7
One video posted on Twitter by a consumer in Queenstown recorded protestors vandalising the inside of a Clicks store.
Since the EFF issued its statement, Clicks has recalled the advert, while Tresemmé and its parent company Unilever have issued apology statements.
Tresemmé wrote: “We are very sorry that images used by a Tresemmé South African marketing campaign on the Clicks website appears to promote racist sterotypes about hair.
“Our campaign set out to celebrate the beauty of all hair types and the range of solutions Tresemmé offers but we got it wrong.”
Clicks also posted a statement from its CEO Vikesh Ramsunder: “As Group CEO of Clicks, I am deeply disappointed that we allowed insensitive and offensive images to be published on our website.
“I apologise unreservedly for the hurt and anger these images have caused.”
We have made a mistake and sincerely apologise for letting you down. We recognise we have a role to play in creating a more diverse and inclusive S.A, starting with our website content. We know we need to do better, and commit to ensuring our content better reflects this value.— Clicks (@Clicks_SA) September 4, 2020
Beauty brands have been at the centre of a number of ‘racist’ campaigns in recent years.
Dove, another Unilever-owned brand, issued an apology in 2017 for a video clip that promoted its body wash product featuring a black woman transforming into a white woman.
Meanwhile, Dior was accused of cultural appropriation and racism last year after starring a Native American in its Sauvage fragrance campaign alongside long-standing frontman Johnny Depp.