Clicks to remove TRESemmé products, senior executive resigns

08 September 2020 - 15:25 By Tanisha Heiberg
Clicks said all employees responsible for publishing the controversial hair product advertisement have been suspended and it has accepted the resignation of the senior executive responsible.
Clicks said all employees responsible for publishing the controversial hair product advertisement have been suspended and it has accepted the resignation of the senior executive responsible.
Image: KEARA EDWARDS

Clicks Group said on Tuesday it will remove TRESemmé products, a Unilever Plc brand, from its shelves after an advertisement posted on the retailer's website was seen to be racist.

The advert by TRESemmé, which was posted on the Clicks website on Friday, showed an image of African hair which it described as “frizzy and dull” while an example of white hair was referred to as “normal”.

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Clicks removed the advert and apologised, as did TRESemmé SA.

Clicks said all employees responsible for publishing the advertisement have been suspended, and it had accepted the resignation of the senior executive responsible.

The advert caused an outcry on social media and sparked protests led by the EFF. The party has demanded that all Clicks stores be shut for at least a week.

The advert also drew criticism from the government, with small business development minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni rejecting Click's apology, saying it was “meaningless” and calling for TRESemme products to be removed from its shelves.

Unilever did not respond to requests for comment.

On Tuesday, some Clicks stores around the country remained closed after protesters damaged seven shops on Monday.

The company planned to close all stores on Wednesday to provide counselling and support to staff.

“We recognise this event has had a significant impact on our people and our customers,  and we have taken a decision to close our stores for a day on September 9,” said Clicks CEO Vikesh Ramsunder.

A court on Tuesday blocked the EFF from preventing the opening of Clicks stores and intimidating employees and customers, eNCA television reported.

It is unclear what effect store closures would have on the company, which has already warned that trading would be tough for the rest of its financial year due to the coronavirus crisis.

Makers of consumer packaged goods have reconsidered their marketing after global protests against racial injustice. Several brands have scrapped black advertising mascots.

Reuters

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.