From Clicks to H&M: Four times big brands got their advertising all wrong

08 September 2020 - 06:53 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Clicks has made headlines for an insensitive hair advert. It's not the first major brand to be accused of racism in its advertising.
Clicks has made headlines for an insensitive hair advert. It's not the first major brand to be accused of racism in its advertising.
Image: Picture: SUPPLIED

Discrimination in advertising is making news headlines again following a "racist" advert by local health and beauty retailer Clicks.

Many have questioned whether retailers have procedures in place that guide ads before they are approved to go public.  

Here are four times that big companies got advertising wrong:

Clicks, 2020

The company on Friday deleted an advert which discriminated against black, natural hair. It labelled it as "dry and damaged" and blonde, straight hair as "fine and flat normal hair." The retailer issued an apology and said the pictures do not represent their values. 

The EFF deployed its members to Clicks stores across the country, where they staged protests against management and the advert. The party in Emalahleni (Witbank) distanced itself from an incident of vandalism after a store in the area was petrol-bombed. The store said it would investigate the cause of the damage.

H&M, 2018

The fashion brand came under fire for its online advert which showed a black boy wearing a hoodie with the slogan "coolest monkey in the jungle." It was met with protests by the EFF, which condemned its racist undertone.

The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) slammed the use of terms like "baboon" and "monkey", saying they were used to discriminate against black people.

Gucci, 2019

The luxury clothing brand launched its "balaclava" jumpers in 2019 and was criticised for its resemblance to blackface. The jumper covered the lower part of the face and had a cutout of red lips.

The brand apologised for any offence caused and announced that it removed the jumpers from its online and physical stores.

Nivea, 2017

Skincare brand Nivea came under fire in 2017 for an advert that aired in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, among other countries. The advert featured former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi, who applied the body lotion to instantly turned her skin lighter. 

The company also withdrew the advert after it was criticised for perpetuating colourism among black women. 

LISTEN | 'They must apologise to all of us' - Celebs weigh in on Clicks 'racist' advert outrage


subscribe