The company and retailer Clicks came under fire over the offensive advert on its website, which called black women’s hair ‘dry, damaged, and frizzy’ compared to a white woman’s hair which was labelled ‘normal’.
FILE: Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni. Picture: Xanderleigh Dookey/EWN
JOHANNESBURG – The Department of Small Business Development on Thursday said that Unilever’s decision to remove its TRESemmé products from retail stores across the country for 10 days did not go far enough to make amends for its racist advert.
The company and retailer Clicks came under fire over the offensive advert on its website, which called black women’s hair “dry, damaged, and frizzy” compared to a white woman’s hair which was labelled “normal”.
Clicks was forced to close its doors after at least 400 stores were vandalised during nationwide protests this week.
Following discussions with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), Unilever agreed to withdraw the TRESemmé products from retail stores nationwide as a demonstration of its remorse for the offensive and racist advert used in its hair campaign.
However, Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni criticised its response as inadequate.
“I don’t think that’s good enough. Why can’t Unilever commit to also licensing some of the South African brands and put them on the shelf? I think we need to commit them to more action,” Ntshavheni said.
“You will recall that this is not the first incident that relates to Unilever licensed products in South Africa and racial undertones or racism itself,” she added.
Taking their cue from Clicks, more retailers including Dis-Chem, Shoprite, and Makro elected to pull TRESemmé products from their shelves.
Ntshavheni said that the empty shelves would be substituted with local products.
“We are engaging with Pick n Pay on a similar attitude to say how do we improve their local products. We are hoping that we will get the same traction that we got with Clicks with other retailers,” she said.
Unilever said that the director involved in the campaign had since left the company and the country, while the necessary disciplinary action would be taken against those involved.