A racist ad, the backlash and an apology - how Clicks got it horribly wrong

07 September 2020 - 09:07 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Clicks has come under fire from many South Africans over an offensive advert on its website. File Photo.
Clicks has come under fire from many South Africans over an offensive advert on its website. File Photo.
Image: Gallo Images/Charles Gallo

Health and beauty retailer Clicks says it will trade on Monday despite calls by the EFF to shut down its stores over a racist hair advert.

Here's a wrap of the controversy:

The advert and the backlash

The retailer trended on Twitter on Friday after it labelled black hair “dry” and “damaged”  in an ad on its website, while blonde, straight hair was labelled “fine” and “flat.” Scores of South Africans were outraged by the advert and called out the retailer on social media for its discrimination and prejudice against black natural hair.

Some said the advert was put out on purpose to “stir racism” and “provoke” black people, while others said the retailer must sell natural hair care products at discounted prices to show solidarity with black women.

Members of the EFF, led by deputy president Floyd Shivambu, protested outside the Clicks retail store in Sandton City as part of a nationwide protest on September 7 2020. This comes after the retail group released a TRESemmé advert on its website that has been condemned by the EFF as racist. Meanwhile, police are investigating several incidents across the country where stores were vandalised.

The apology

Clicks issued an “unequivocal” apology, saying the images go against its values.

“We do not condone racism and are strong advocates of natural hair. We are deeply sorry and will put in place stricter measures on our website,” it said.

Shut down?

The EFF on Sunday condemned the advert and called on its “fighters” and “ground forces” to shut down all Clicks stores around the country on Monday. 

According to the statement, EFF leader Julius Malema will occupy the Mall of the North in Polokwane, Limpopo, deputy president Floyd Shivambu will be deployed to Sandton City  in Gauteng and secretary-general Marshall Dlamini will occupy Mall of Africa in Midrand.

Clicks will trade on Monday

The retailer issued another statement on Sunday, saying it will trade despite threats made by the EFF to shut down all its stores.

“Clicks provides a much needed health-care service to South Africans and stores will not be closed. Contingency plans have been put in place to ensure the safety of both customers and staff,” it said.