Supermarket giants pull offensive product off their shelves

AFRICAN MIRROR REPORTER

Following a massive public outcry over a racist advert, three South African supermarket giants – Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Woolworths – have joined health and beauty chain Clicks and removed hair products from TRESemmé from their shelves.

The step by Shoprite, Pick n Pay and Woolworths followed a harrowing three days for Clicks after it was forced to shut its doors by protests led by South African opposition party, the Economic Freedom Front. 

Clicks non-executive director Nkululeko Gobodo has said, in a radio interview, that while Clicks understood that people were angry because of a racist advert on one of the products sold at its stores, the company was concerned about the trauma endured by the staff.

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

Clicks removed the advert and apologised, as did TRESemmé South Africa.

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 EFF which demanded that stores be shut for at least a week.

The advert also drew criticism from the government with the Minister for Small Business Development, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, rejecting Click’s apology saying it was “meaningless” and calling for the TRESemmé 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 demonstrators damaged seven shops the previous day.

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 Wednesday 9 September,” Clicks CEO Vikesh Ramsunder said in a statement.

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

It is unclear what impact 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 following global protests against racial injustice. Several brands have scrapped Black advertising mascots.- African Mirror Reporter and Thomson Reuters Foundation.



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