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UPDATE | Hair ad row: SAHRC to probe advertising industry after meeting with Clicks


The SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) announced on Friday that it will launch an inquiry into the advertising industry relating to racism.

This comes after a TRESemmé advert on Clicks’ website depicted natural black hair as “dry and damaged”, which drew widespread criticism and inspired nationwide protests by the EFF.

The SAHRC met with the management of Clicks on Friday.

READ | Clicks hair advert: senior exec resigns, TRESemmé to be removed from shelves, employees suspended

“During the engagement with Clicks, it emerged clearly that structural racism continues to hinder the industry more broadly,” said spokesperson Buang Jones in a statement. 

“[T]he Commission’s Gauteng Provincial Office will together with the KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape Offices convene an inquiry into the advertising industry, advertising standards and their adherence to human rights in an endeavour to address structural racism in the industry.”

Meanwhile, Unilever South Africa said it was shocked to discover that it had supplied images for a TRESemmé advert that portrayed black hair as inferior.”This was racist and we apologise unreservedly,” said Unilever SA, which licenses TRESemmé products, in a statement on Friday.”At the same time, we began reviewing all the marketing campaigns and images in our South Africa portfolio to make sure they match our commitment to celebrate all beauty and promote diversity and inclusion,” it added.

The Commission said during the meeting, Clicks’ CEO Vikesh Ramsunder explained how the advertisement had landed on the group’s website and measures that were now put in place to prevent the same incident from happening again in the future. 

ALSO READ |Clicks commits to increase spending on SMMEs and local products after meeting with govt

The retailer also informed the Commission on on-going transformation training for its staff, including management. The CEO also made an undertaking to engage suppliers on the company’s transformation agenda, to avoid future insensitive adverts. 

“The Commission’s Chairperson, Adv. Bongani Majola, stressed to Clicks that the nature of the advert on Clicks’ website, together with others in the retail industry, is inconsistent with the constitutional objectives of South Africa, transformation and efforts to promote social cohesion.” 

Clicks has also put the matter to bed with EFF following their meeting on Thursday

The party also had a separate meeting with Unilever. 

Following its meeting with the retailer, EFF announced that both parties agreed that Clicks will donate a minimum of 50 000 sanitary towels(pads), 50 000 santisers and masks to rural and informal settlements identified by the party. 

EFF also said it would work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that agent provocateurs involved in the vandalism of Clicks stores are brought to book. 

– Compiled by Adiel Ismail and Sesona Ngqakamba


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