The advert shows a black woman with the label “frizzy & dull hair” and a white woman labelled “normal hair”.
Amid a protest campaign led by the Economic Freedom Fighters political party and admonishment from cabinet, Clicks has removed TRESemmé products from its shelves and issued an “unequivocal apology”.
A photo of 14 women, some seemingly white, at a boardroom table has since been posted on social media. It’s described as the “Clicks marketing team” that created the advert.
But while it has been shared many times on Facebook and Twitter, the people shown in the photo are not Clicks employees, and certainly did not create the controversial advert.
So where does the photo come from?
Huffington Post editors’ meeting
A reverse image search quickly reveals that the photo is not of a Clicks marketing team. It was tweeted by then Huffington Post editor Liz Heron on 20 May 2016 with the caption: “Notice anything about this @HuffingtonPost editors meeting? ????”
Heron was drawing attention to the number of women on the Post’s editorial staff, although the lack of racial diversity shown in the photo was criticised at the time.
Needless to say, the Huffington Post – owned by the US-based Verizon Media – is not in any way related to Clicks, which is owned by South Africa’s Clicks Group.
TRESemmé products removed from shelves
And even if it were a photo of a Clicks marketing team, Clicks was not responsible for the racist advert. It was created by TRESemmé.
Clicks CEO Vikesh Ramsunder has apologised in an open letter for allowing “insensitive and offensive images to be published on our website”.
The letter states that “negligent [Clicks] employees have been suspended”. And along with other major South African retailers, Clicks has removed all TRESemmé products from store shelves.
TRESemmé South Africa has issued an apology on its website and on the website of its parent company, Unilever South Africa. It makes no mention of the employees responsible for the offensive advert, but states: “We are looking into how this happened and why it wasn’t picked up, and we will take all necessary steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.” – Keegan Leech
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